Thousands of runners from around Long Island, along with hundreds of supporters and volunteers, descended upon Levy-Lakeside School in Merrick on Sunday for the Eighth Annual Robbie’s Run, a charity event that raises money for The Robbie Levine Foundation.
The foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Merokeans Jill and Craig Levine in honor of their son Robbie Levine, who died suddenly at age 9 on Sept. 27, 2005, when his heart stopped while he was running the bases during a Little League team practice at Lakeside’s front baseball field. The foundation offers CPR/AED courses annually and fosters education and awareness of the importance of AEDs in treating sudden cardiac arrest, with a special focus on children.
More than 1,700 runners took part on Sunday, with 1,150 participating in the 5K main event. The day also included a one-mile “mini-run” and a children’s half-mile “fun run,” as well as other activities for children and raffle prizes. The 5K wound through the residential streets of south Merrick and finished at Lakeside’s front baseball field.
Sean Mahon, 27, of Merrick, came in first in the 5K. Shari Klarfeld, 32, of Plainview, was the first woman to cross the finish line.
It was the largest turnout for the annual Robbie’s Run to date, exceeding last year’s total by about 100 runners. The foundation raised about $47,000.
“I thought it was a great day,” Jill Levine said. “We had a lot of great feedback from the runners.”
Near the end of the day’s festivities at Lakeside, officials from the Merrick-North Merrick Little League announced that they had a surprise for the roughly 500 people still on hand at Lakeside.
A stunned and emotional Jill and Craig Levine looked on as the Little League officials announced that the front baseball field at Lakeside, known until then as Field 3, would be rededicated the “Forever 9 Field” in memory of Robbie Levine and in tribute to the charitable work of The Robbie Levine Foundation. The officials revealed a banner hanging from the baseball diamond’s backstop with the field’s new name.
“We were literally shocked. It was a very wonderful surprise,” Jill Levine said. “It was a great tribute to Robbie, and it was a very nice acknowledgement from the Little League. The Little League has been part of our family’s life for 13 years … Our family was very happy to see that.”