Bethpage resident Wai Law runs along the boardwalk from Seaford to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, during a seven-day charity marathon for Stony Brook University’s Thomas Hartman Center for Parkinson’s Research. PHOTO COURTESY OF STONY BROOK MEDICINE

Wai Law finished his third run for charity on July 31. He ran over 320 miles in seven days, raising money for Stony Brook University’s Thomas Hartman Center for Parkinson’s Research and The Adolescent Medicine Fund for Excellence, which contributes to Stony Brook’s Division of Adolescent Medicine

The marathon started and ended in Stony Brook. Law ran through Orient Point, Montauk, Westhampton, Seaford, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Huntington. His marathon journey was documented on Facebook. The goal is to raise $32,000 cumulatively for both charities. Donations are still being collected.

Initially from Bethpage, Law was inspired to run for Parkinson’s research after his close friend, Dennis Almodovar of Massapequa, lost his father to Parkinson’s disease in 2017. 

The two have known each other for 16 years and met through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Team in Training,” in which they trained for an endurance event while simultaneously fundraising, Almodovar explained. 

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Coincidently, both men began running in high school and are now accountants.  

“What we do is two-fold,” Almodovar said. “Obviously, we want to raise funds, whether it’s Parkinson’s to do research or whether it’s with the Adolescent mental awareness to provide services to people directly. But the other thing that is important is creating awareness.”

Despite being the only participant to run the full marathon, Law was joined by others throughout the run, including Almodovar, who says he completed about 80 miles in this year’s marathon.  

“I ran the entire distance, but not by myself. I also had people from time to time jump in,” said Law.

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He can’t recall a specific number of runners. “There’s simply too many of them.”

Their efforts are highly regarded by Dr. Alfredo Fontanini, the chair of the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior at Stony Brook University. 

“The Thomas Hartman Canter for Parkinson’s Research and the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior at Stony Brook University are deeply grateful to Wai and Dennis for their outstanding continued friendship and support,” Fontanini said to Stony Brook News. “Their ultra-runs and their commitment to raising awareness for Parkinson’s research and mental health are truly inspiring for all of us involved in neuroscience research and development of new therapeutic approaches.” 

According to Law, Fontanini actually participated in the marathon. Law said that Fontanini joined him on the second day of the marathon, running about 50 kilometers. 

This year, Almodovar and Law also ran to raise funds for The Adolescent Medicine Fund for Excellence. Law and Almodovar both encourage an open conversation about adolescent mental health. 

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“There’s a certain stigma. People aren’t willing to talk about it,” Almodovar said. “So by us putting this out in the public … we bring up the topic of we want people to be able to talk about it and learn about it as well.”

Dr. Allison Eliscu, the division chief of adolescent medicine at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, explained that since the pandemic began, mental health disorders have become increasingly prevalent among children.

We’re thankful for the community support through the tireless activities of Wai and Dennis which will enable us to help many more adolescents who are struggling,” Eliscu told Stony Brook News. In Adolescent Medicine, we are dedicated to ensuring access to mental health care and focused on providing resilience and coping skills, as well as breaking the stigma associated with mental illness.” 

Aside from wanting to contribute to improvements in health care and research, Almodovar and Law attribute their will to run to their strong friendship.

“The reason why we did what we did the last three years is for the memory of Dennis’ father, Mr. Ruben Almodover. I’ve known Dennis for 16 years and he is probably the most generous person that I have ever met in my life,” Law said, describing his friend as “selfless.” 

“The feeling is mutual,” Almodover said. “For me, it’s just a tremendous honor that Wai is doing something like this in memory of my dad.”

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1 comment

  1. This was such an interesting article! Very well written I can’t wait to see more from this writer!

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