2019 is the 10th anniversary of Team WSA at the Long Island Marathon Festival of Races. With runners and walkers registered for the one mile run up through the full marathon, runners and teams fundraising for the WSA have raised more than $300,000 since 2010. This year’s event, the weekend of May 4th and 5th, will only add to that generous total. Thank you to Rob Dell'Unto and his family as well as the committee who has worked to organize this every year.
In addition to the awareness and fundraising aspects of the event, it has inspired a young athlete (and his mother!) to run and grow over the years. Melinda Dolinsky got involved because of her son Steven, who has WS; son Andrew, now a 14 year old, got involved to honor his older brother. This is their seventh year, and both look forward to it every year. This year, Andrew is finally old enough to run the 10K! Their brotherly bond and the inspiration of racing is quite the story—from Andrew’s first race to now training in triathlon!
According to mom Melinda: “I am not a runner by any means but I wanted to be out there representing our Steven! After my first run, Andrew wanted to run for Steven—but he was only seven years old. Steven and Andrew are three years apart and Andrew has always been the ‘older’ brother. From an early age he embraced the role; their relationship has turned into a friendship and Andrew is definitely Steve's best friend and greatest role model. Andrew has been involved in every part of Steve's life and has seen the heartache and triumphs.
Since Andrew was too young seven years ago to run at the event, we looked and found a local race that he could run. He was so proud to wear his Williams syndrome shirt and raise awareness for his brother. He had run a few local races and then Rob Dell’Unto and I spoke about having kids run on Saturday during the festival of races...from there it just grew. Andrew has run every year since...so proudly! During marathon weekend this year, there is actually a triathlon in Virginia, but when we found out there was a date conflict, Andrew didn't even think twice...he said he would never miss running for Team WSA during marathon weekend.”
Andrew, also a swimmer, has always had his eyes on the big races during the festival, and it’s finally his year! He is currently training in triathlon, and runs all year round. We spoke to Andrew about being an athlete and the “big brother” role he plays in his Steven’s life. He says that Steven inspires him; that any time he feels any pain from training, he thinks of all his brother has been through with WS and he powers on. He stressed that Steven is like any other teenager—always on his phone! He credits his brother with teaching him patience at a young age, which we’ve heard quite a bit from siblings. Andrew says that “he’s a normal brother—he just does things a little differently.”
Andrew is really serious about triathlon, and hopes that when he hits college, the NCAA will have added it as an official college sport. We wish all the runners success this weekend, but especially Andrew, who will be proudly running his first “adult” race and raising awareness for Williams syndrome. Thanks to the family for sharing their boys' story.
Go Team WSA!
Team WSA at the Long Island Festival of Races is planned and orchestrated by this committee of WSA families--thank you and have a great race weekend!
Rob Dell'Unto and family