As Spartan Race gears up to head back to Times Square on January 17th, we made a pit stop in the Rockaways with a dedicated group of Spartan Race Street Team members to give back to those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy.  Partnering with NYCares, Spartan Race Street Teamers proved that, “Spartans Give Generously” with their hard work on the devastated coastline.  After the volunteer event, emails came pouring in from those who were onsite.  The photos were startling.  Months later, the damage is still severe and the work far from over.  Over the weekend Spartan Racers gave their time, talent, and brute strength to give back.

Said one Spartan Race veteran and volunteer Eric Sperrazza, “Saturday’s Spartan Racers Muck Out Queens event was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done!  The staff of New York Cares were so accommodating and passionate about their mission and meeting new Spartan Race friends, while helping a needy community, was created a camaraderie that I am confident will carry over beyond this event. Further, the neighbors that were out, within the community, were so appreciative of our work that it really quantified the purpose for us being there and galvanized us a team to see through all of our tasks.”

Keri Foley gave us a recap of the day that served as a reminder of how much work is still left to be done and how a group of people can make a difference when they set out to help out those in need.  Here is Foley’s story.

On Saturday, January 12th, myself and several other Street Team members boarded a bus in Manhattan headed for the Rockaways.  None of us had ever done a Muck Out, nor did we know what we would be getting ourselves into, but we were all eager to help out those who homes had been ruined by Hurricane Sandy.  We arrived at “Base Camp” in the Rockaways, and were given the basic gear for our protection; a mask, a hardhat, gloves, goggles, and a Tyvec suit.  Everything we were given was to protect us from debris, dust, and the toxic black mold that now overwhelmed each home.  After listening to a brief explanation of some of the conditions out there, we re-boarded the bus and headed to our location for the day.

On the drive, we passed washed away sidewalks, homes with sand past their doorways, and arrived at beachfront condos that were across the street from what used to be the boardwalk.  Now it was just pylons.  Our leader, Jeff, informed us that the condos we would be working on had already had their drywall gutted, and that we would be ripping up the floorboards and preparing for future detoxing of the black mold.  We donned our gear, and entered the first condo, not knowing what to expect.  Jeff gave us a basic demonstration of how to tear apart the floorboards, and we set to work.  The first condo was our “learning home”; we learned which tools worked better, which way was easiest to tear up the mold infested floorboards.  We trudged through each room, working faster and harder as we went.  By the time we reached our second and third condo, we had each found a rhythm, and the work, though physically challenging, became easier with each sledgehammer and chisel slam.  The day was as exhausting and challenging as many Spartan Races are, but I was so humbled by the experience and the strength of those whose homes had been destroyed.  A couple of the homeowners treated us to pizza, but their gratitude for our being there was more than any ‘thank you’ I could have imagined.  At the end of the day, Jeff told us that we worked faster and harder than any team he had ever worked with.  Our response…  “Of course, We’re SPARTANS!”
A sign over one of our condos read, “No Retreat, No Surrender, Not NOW, Not EVER, Rockaway Forever”.  I felt that captured the essence and strength of the people and the spirit of any Spartan.   I left that day being ever so grateful for Spartan Race giving me this opportunity; I am hoping to be able to do it again in the future.

[Editor's Note: The Spartan Race Times Square Challenge is set for Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., at Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Streets, in Manhattan come down and see Spartans in action!]

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