May 28, 2024

Warwick Teacher, Rumford Resident Runs Providence Marathon to Benefit Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts And Rhode Island - As official last runner to start, passes 1,509 runners in twist on fundraising

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Providence, Rhode Island – On Sunday, May 7, Warwick Public Schools art teacher and Rumford resident Joe Belanger ran the Providence Marathon on behalf of Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island. As a Team Make-A-Wish member, Belanger’s goal is to raise $2500 to help grant wishes for local children with critical illnesses during the organization’s 40th anniversary year. This year, 19 runners participated on Team Make-A-Wish.

In a twist on traditional fundraising, Belanger was the very last runner to start the marathon. For every runner Belanger passed on the 26.2-mile route, the Integlia Family Foundation and Hill View Partners, both of Providence, each donated $1 to Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island. With just over 1,600 participants, Belanger passed 1,509 runners, finishing in 15th place among all Rhode Island runners and 135th place overall, and yielding an additional $3,018 through the challenge gifts. Taken together with his pre-race fundraising, Belanger has raised over $5,000 through the marathon.

Belanger has supported Make-A-Wish in many ways, including running on Team Make-A-Wish for the Boston Marathon and the ASICS Falmouth Road Race, Taken together with his Providence Marathon fundraising, he has now raised over $20,000 to make wishes come true. The Warwick art teacher has also hosted several art parties through the Wish Community program, which connects wish recipients and their families with one another through events, activities, and other opportunities. Outside of his work in the Warwick Public Schools, Belanger enjoys spending time with his family and dogs and his hobbies include cooking and wood and metal fabrication.

“I support Make-A-Wish because the service they provide can transform a wish recipient’s life as well as the people in their orbit,” says Belanger. “As an educator and a runner, the communities we support and that support us can be full of enormous amounts of positivity, and we all benefit from that.”

Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island was the official charity partner of the 2023 Providence Marathon and Half Marathon, in partnership with Ventures Endurance, part of Gannett's USA TODAY NETWORK. The race runs through historic downtown sites and offers scenic views of the Providence River and city neighborhoods.

“We were honored to be the official charity partner of such an iconic Providence event,” said Michael Vieira, Rhode Island Regional Director of Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, “The funds raised through this opportunity will help us grant incredible and necessary wishes for Rhode Island children who deserve the hope and joy that a wish provides. The stories of the runners on Team Make-A-Wish are incredibly moving, and we’re thrilled to give them the platform to honor our mission by running. The makeup of the team is an example of the community involved with granting every wish.”

Before the race, wish recipient Kaylee Chambers, 17, of Woonsocket, RI, sang the national anthem. Kaylee, diagnosed with cancer, had her wish to meet singer Lauren Daigle granted in 2021. Wish recipient Abigail Vallejos of Providence, RI, who received her wish to go to Walt Disney World® Resort in 2020, served as Race Starter, helping count down to the start.

A post-race party for all runners was hosted by Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island and Ventures Endurance in collaboration with in-kind partners Good Dogg Hard Seltzer, Fiddlehead Brewing, and Narragansett Brewing.

To support Joe Belanger and Team Make-A-Wish in their fundraising efforts, visit www.massri.wish.org/pvdmarathon.   Donations to runners will be accepted through May 31, 2023.

To learn more about Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island and find out how you can get involved during its 40th anniversary year, visit www.massri.wish.org/40


More information about the Providence Marathon and Half Marathon is available at https://providencemarathon.com


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