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Run for Recovery is Saturday, will benefit Bridge Program

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“I go back to the loss of a real good friend, and the 16 summers I shared with him.”

Those last words of the Kenny Chesney song “I Go Back” will be played just before three special children cross the “starting” line of the Watertown Urban Mission Bridge Program’s annual Run for Recovery, set for 9 a.m. Saturday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, off Coffeen Street.

Hunter Thomas Garnsey, 9, Rocco Thomas Morgia, 1, and Easton Thomas Phinney, also 1, may not know it yet, but they have a special connection to Thomas L. Ivey II, for whom the race is named this year.

The three boys are sons of Mr. Ivey’s best friends from throughout his childhood and short adult life.

“The three little boys never knew Tom, and I guarantee by the time they’re old enough, they will,” said Mr. Ivey’s mother, Martha W.

Her son died Nov. 23, 2003, when the drunken driver with whom he was riding got into an accident. Mr. Ivey, 27, suffered blunt-force trauma when he was ejected from the vehicle as it hit a tree on Bailey Settlement Road in the town of Alexandria.

“His friends always played that song,” Mrs. Ivey said of “I Go Back.”

She said she has felt proud and honored that her son’s friends remembered him in such a close way, using Mr. Ivey’s name as their children’s middle names. The boys, and other family and friends of Mr. Ivey, will release gold- and navy-colored balloons before the fifth annual 5k/10k run and 5k walk begins, Mrs. Ivey said.

As of Thursday, 330 people had pre-registered for the event, according to Urban Mission Development Director Andrew G. Mangione. People can pre-register until 4 p.m. today at the mission, 247 Factory St., at a cost of $20 per person or $110 for a team of six. Military members will receive a 10 percent discount. Day-of registration begins at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, at a cost of $25 per person, or $140 per team of six.

Proceeds will benefit the mission’s Bridge Program, which is an alternative-to-incarceration program for repeat DWI offenders. About 250 racers and several sponsors for the 2012 race helped raise $16,500 for the program.

Participants this year will follow a new course, which will start at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds and go out VanDuzee Street to outer East Main Street, and into Glen Park along Route 12E. Following the race, there will be an awards ceremony with free food, a silent auction featuring more than 20 items, and entertainment and children’s activities.

The event’s lead sponsor is Alpine Fence; other sponsors include the Watertown Daily Times, United Healthcare Community Plan, Sam’s Club and Lake Ontario Realty. Mr. Mangione said the support of all 18 event sponsors and the racers will help ensure the Bridge Program stays intact.

“The Bridge Program costs about $65,000 to $67,000 to run,” he said. “That includes the Bridge director, testing kits for drugs and alcohol, the cost of case management, services we provide to help clients be successful.”

With state funding for the program at $26,000, this race helps offset program cost, Mr. Mangione said.

More than 50 volunteers, including Bridge clients, will help run the event. Mrs. Ivey, her family members and Mr. Ivey’s friends, will be at the finish line handing out water bottles and commemorative bracelets to each runner. The event not only raises money for the Bridge Program, it raises awareness about drunken-driving accidents, Mr. Mangione said.

Mrs. Ivey said it all comes down to choices — people can drink and people can drive, but they can’t do both. She said that while you can’t reason with someone who has been drinking, you can always offer to take them home, and hope they accept your offer so they don’t hurt or kill themselves or someone else on the road. People also should think twice about getting in the car with someone who has been drinking, she said. Her son didn’t.

“We lost our only son,” she said. “Tom was my best friend. Ten years has passed. You can be an advocate so this doesn’t happen to someone else.”

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