MONTAUK, Long Island (WABC) -- The owner of a physical therapy practice on Long Island, which helps children and young adults with neurological diagnoses, is running 85 miles Saturday from the Montauk Lighthouse to her office in Islandia in an effort to lift the spirits of her clients and their families.
"2020 was really hard on our families," said Christine Astarita, 31, owner of Breakthrough Intensive Physical Therapy. "They lost their support systems - the minimal that they do have."
Astarita, of Coram, who has completed a number of marathons, decided that doing a long run, while pushing some of her clients along the way and having clients and their families ride, bike or run along with her, would be a great way to give her clients the sense of community they lost during the pandemic.
"I really wanted it be this positive, uplifting community thing for these families," she said.
Astarita is also raising money for Angela's House - a group which helps families with medically frail children on Long Island. She said she's raised about $8,000 so far.
Astarita will start her run 11 p.m. Friday at the Montauk Lighthouse. She will have escorts from the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office along the way.
At mile 56, she will begin rotating pushing her clients in adaptive strollers. Astarita said she was inspired by Massachusetts father Dick Hoyt who was known around the world for competing in marathons and triathlons with his son with cerebral palsy. Hoyt died last year.
"I was deeply inspired by him and what he did," Astarita said. "I always dreamt that one day I would be wheeling our clients across some sort of distance."
Astarita said some of her clients who are able to use adaptive tricycles will also join on some of the run with her.
"The kids are getting really excited," Astarita said.
Astarita said for the last mile members of her staff will run alongside her. The event will end with a celebration outside Astarita's practice on Veterans Memorial Highway around 6 p.m. Saturday.
"Everyone's rallied around this," said Michael Massa, whose son is one of Astarita's clients. "It's a great place to begin with and Christine is just amazing."
To learn more about Astarita's run or to donate, click here.
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