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Marathon party becomes Camp Korey fundraiser

Bonnie McReynolds doesn’t blow through a marathon course as fast as she did when she ran in the Olympic trials, but the Olympia resident still has plenty of good reasons to run.

This morning McReynolds, a 47-year-old nurse, will run in the New York City Marathon to celebrate her brother’s 50th birthday and raise money for a camp for seriously ill children.

“It’s neat to be a part of a big event like this and to run with my brother,” McReynolds said, “and to be able to support a good cause.”

McReynolds still finishes marathons in about 3 hours, 15 minutes – considerably faster than most people – but when she runs today she won’t consider it racing.

Today’s run is a result of her brother’s birthday wish. Chris McReynolds is on the board of directors for Camp Korey, an organization in Carnation that provides various services for kids with disabilities.

The idea was to form a team of runners that would raise at least $3,000 each. In addition to the McReynolds siblings, Team Korey has 36 more runners from as far away as Oslo and Tokyo.

All of the runners have exceeded their fundraising goals, said Camp Korey spokesman Justin Huguet. The team expects to raise more than $300,000 for the camp.

“I think it’s really cool that he chose to do this for his birthday instead of throwing a big party,” she said.

Camp Korey started in 2005 in honor of Korey Rose, a teenager who died of bone cancer when he was 18. Korey’s dad, Tim, founded the camp with the goal of creating a place for families with children dealing with similar problems.

Tim Rose was inspired by actor Paul Newman who created a similar safe haven in 1989 called The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

Rose and Newman toured the 818-acre historic Carnation Farms grounds and were blown away by the potential. Newman even referred to the facility as “the Taj Mahal of summer camps,” Huguet said.

Camp Korey hosts seven weeklong camps each summer with programs designed for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. The visitors to the Carnation camp can swim, boat, fish, ride horses, scale a climbing wall and use a wheelchair-accessible high ropes course, all with trained personal and medical support nearby.

In recent years local runners have been supporting the cause running Seattle’s Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon and last year’s New York City Marathon to raise money for Camp Korey.

“It has been beyond our wildest dreams,” Huguet said. “It has become an important part of our fundraising efforts.”

For McReynolds, this fundraiser allows her to add another major marathon to an impressive resume. She ran the 1994 Boston Marathon, arguably the nation’s most prestigious marathon, and finished sixth in the ’96 Chicago Marathon. McReynolds also competed in the Olympic trials in ’96 and 2000, finishing 11th and 25th respectively. Only 200 runners qualify for the trials. She ran the ’96 marathon in Columbia, S.C., in 2 hours, 36 minutes. That same year she ran her fastest marathon, finishing Minnesota’s Grandma’s Marathon in 2:34. But she always wanted to run the New York City Marathon, which has a field topping 35,000 runners.

“People really come out for this marathon.” McReynolds said. “I’ve heard there are people six or seven deep all along the course. And to be able to do this with a group of people running for the same cause is special. It’s not just about yourself.”

So, now that her brother has raised the bar in terms of birthday celebrations, what is McReynolds going to do for her 50th?

“I have no idea,” McReynolds said. “But I guess, now, it better be something big.”

Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via craig.hill@thenewstribune.com, facebook.com/adventureguys or twitter.com/adventureguys.

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