WOONSOCKET — A perfect spring day, lots of participants and a helpful crew of volunteers made the YWCA’s inaugural Race Against Racism 5K race a home run Sunday morning.
U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline, who was on hand to start the runners from River Island Park, praised the YWCA and its partners in the race for calling awareness to diversity in the city and Rhode Island as a whole with the event.
Mount St. Charles running coach and top Rhode Island racer Roland Lavallee placed first in the race with a time of 15:05, and Peggy Prosseda took the women’s title with a winning time of 22:25.
See RACE, Page A-2
The Woonsocket Police Department had a contingent of its CopsWalk 2011 team in the race and also helping the organizers with traffic management on the course.
Woonsocket Police Sgt. George McMann, who ran the race with fellow Police Department and CopsWalk members Lt. Brad Scully, Lt. Kyle Stone, Det. Peter Menard and Patrolman Kevin L’Heureux, said the event had exceeded his expectations in both turnout and organization. “I thought it was a very good success,” McMann said after finishing the 3.1 mile course. “For an inaugural event it was a tremendous success,” he said. Other members of the CopsWalk 2011 team, who will set off from River Island Park on a 450-mile fundraising relay walk and run to Washington, D.C. on May 9, volunteering on the course were Lt. Normand Galipeau, Patrolman Sean Carpenter, and Sgt. Edward Cunanan. CopsWalk supports the Concerns of Police Survivors organization and its work to assist families of police officers killed in the line of duty.
YWCA Executive Director Deborah Perry thanked the crowd of just under 200 runners and walkers for their help in highlighting the community’s diversity and efforts to fight racism and promised to make the race an annual event in the coming years. The proceeds of the event will go to help YWCA programs, empowerment for women, and community organizations such as Family Resources Community Action, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, the Woonsocket Prevention Coalition, Landmark Medical Center, Thundermist Health Center, the Northern Rhode Island Area Health Education Center, and the Local Initiative Support Corporation.
Race sponsors included American Legion Post 85, The Call, Neighborhood Health Plan of R.I., Northwest Woolen Mills/Heat Smart Campaign, Physical Therapy Plus, Staples, Thundermist Health Center, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, WOON 1240AM, and the Woonsocket Lions Club.
The Woonsocket City Council had representation in the inaugural race and also the Woonsocket School Committee. Woonsocket City Council President John Ward joined fellow councilman Dan Gendron as a run finisher and Woonsocket School.
SchoolCommitteewoman Vimala Phongsavanh also crossed the finish line near the entrance to River Island Park behind the city’s Museum of Work and Culture. Former Woonsocket State Representatives Nancy Benoit and Christopher Fierro also participated in the race.
Ward recalled how there has not been an organized road race in Woonsocket since the final editions of the annual Autumnfest Road Race were held in the 1980s and commended the organizers for putting together a well-attended inaugural event for the Race Against Racism.
The race course took runners and walkers out of the park on Island Place and around Market Square in front of River Falls Restaurant to River Street. The race continued up River Street past Ye Olde English Fish and Chips and over small rises at Box Seats Restaurant and the bridges over the Blackstone River before making a turnaround at Canal Street and returning along the same route to the finish line at Island Place. A water stop was operated for the race by members of American Legion Post 85.
Royal Robert, 17, took the under 18 title with a time of 20:44, and Alexandra Drexler, 9, won the under 18 girl’s title with a time of 29:42.