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FOREVER RUNNING: 5K in Seneca Falls boy’s memory draws 300 participants

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Posted: Monday, October 8, 2012 10:52 am

SENECA FALLS — They could have slept in on a rainy, cool Saturday morning.

Instead, more than 300 people of all ages, skills and sizes came to Seneca Falls to run in the third annual Forever Young 5K and the Freddy Mile to raise money for the Freddy Morganti Scholarships.

They ran in memory of an energetic 13-year-old boy who lived life to the fullest and was passionate about football, wrestling and baseball.

Freddy Morganti, son of Rick and Melissa Morganti, died unexpectedly of complications from an illness on April 12, 2010.

In his honor and memory, his parents and friends created a college scholarship program for Mynderse Academy students who enjoy and excel in baseball, wrestling and football.

To date, six $750 scholarships have been given out. Proceeds from this year’s race and a softball tournament will allow three more scholarships to be awarded in June.

“I love that people do this. It’s very humbling. It shows the strength of community,’’ Rick Morganti said prior to the 5K race.

He said the idea to have the annual race started with his friend Mark Reese, and it has grown in participation each of its three years.

“It’s very touching and heartwarming to see people do this in Freddy’s memory,’’ added Melissa Morganti.

Children 16 and under could participate in the Freddy Mile run for an entry fee of $10 to $13. The 5K entrants in eight age groups paid $20 to $25 to enter. Businesses signed on as event sponsors to the offset costs, allowing virtually all of the money to go to the scholarship fund.

Yvonne Jolly of Geneva and her 18-year-old daughter entered the 5K.

“My friend Donna Logue talked us into running. It’s for a good cause, and with the rain stopping, it’s nice and cool for running,’’ she said.

Greg Hassett is a personal trainer from Auburn. He came over to run and brought three of his clients with him as part of their training regimen.

And then there was Betty Montgalione, an 84-year-old from Waterloo who planned to mostly walk the 3.1-mile course.

“I’m friends with the Morganti family and as long as I’m able to walk, I wanted to help out,’’ she said.

Reese has organized all three Forever Young races. His son and Freddy Morganti wrestled together and were good friends. The Morgantis and Reeses also bonded over their son’s sporting activities.

“I do it on Columbus Day weekend because kids have a day off from school and there aren’t many sporting events scheduled, so we get good participation from the kids, many of whom knew Freddy,’’ Reese said.

“Freddy was a great kid. I wanted to do something to remember him, and this is it,’’ Reese said.

As for the 5K, the winner was Waterloo High School sophomore and cross country team member Joseph Northrup.

He finished in 19 minutes, 9 seconds, well ahead of the second-place finisher. Erica Barbay, a ninth-grader at Mynderse, was the first female finisher. She was the overall winner last year.

Northrup said he’s been running since seventh-grade and participated in a cross country run in Penfield Friday. He finished fifth in last year’s Forever Young race.

“My strategy is to start out steady and crank it up in the last mile,’’ he said.

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