Amy Fabel and her husband, Mike, were running on the Manayunk Towpath when it hit.
No, not exhaustion. Inspiration.
The Collegeville couple had been thinking they might like to stage a fund-raising event. Suddenly, it seemed obvious: Hold a charity run along the towpath, a place they love.
“That was easy for us,” Amy Fabel said. “We lived in Manayunk for a year before moving to Collegeville, and we miss it so much. We figured it was a central place since I’m from New Jersey and his family is from Pennsylvania”
The event born in the Fabels’ minds that day will kick off today, with the first Manayunk Fools Run, a 5-kilometer trail run along the Schuylkill, plus a one-mile walk on the Manayunk Towpath. The event honors Mike’s godfather, Ray “Bear” Kodish, who lost his battle with lung cancer last year.
Kodish was a close friend and co-worker of Mike’s father. The two worked together at Spring-Ford High School in Royersford, Montgomery County, where Kodish spent 35 years in various roles such as teacher, athetic director and assistant principal.
“He was unbelievably courageous with what he was suffering from,” Lisa said. “We just thought this was a great way to turn a terrible occurrence into a positive.”
Inspired by his example, the Fabels plan to donate proceeds from the event to the LUNGevity Foundation, a Chicago based organization that funds lung cancer research, and to the Ray Kodish Scholarship fund, which provides an educational opportunity to a Spring-Ford student.
The race starts at 6:30 tonight at the towpath entrance at Leverington Avenue and Main Street. So far, 350 people have signed up and more are expected to register in person at 4 p.m.
“Everyone that we’ve talked to about planning a new event said having 100 people was a good start,” Amy Fabel said. “This response was much better than we could have expected.”
The weather forecast certainly could have been better. But, hey, it’s a day for foolishness, so why not run through cold, rain and wind?
“There is no plan,” Amy Fabel said, laughing. “Rain or shine, it’s going to happen.”
In honor of April Fools Day, all participants and fans are encouraged to wear foolish attire for the event. There’s even a prize for the “Best Foolish Attire,” along with awards in each age group and for the top three male and female participants.
After the race, the party continues at Kildare’s Irish Pub on Main Street. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of its proceeds from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. to the LUNGevity foundation.
Amy’s goal is to raise between $5,000 and $6,000 to split between the two causes.
“We just want to bring everyone together to show the [Kodish] family that there is a community out there supporting them,” she said.
The Fabels hope to continue the Fools Run each year in Manayunk on the same weekend, but the plan is to support a different cause each time.
For more information, visit www.manayunkfoolsrun.com.