Running in the name of helping sick kids

A view of the farm where Camp Korey is located. - Contributed photo
A view of the farm where Camp Korey is located.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Every year thousands of runners flock to New York City to the starting line of the largest marathon race in the world. The ING New York City Marathon takes place on Nov. 6 and features some of the top runners in the world. This weekend, it will also include a group of runners from the Puget Sound area with the express goal of raising money for a local camp.

Around 30 racers from the greater Seattle area will join the national Team Hole in the Wall in New York for the race. The group from Washington has been raising money for Camp Korey, located in Carnation, Wash.

Camp Korey offers children who face a childhood illness or other health issues the chance to go to camp during one of the organization’s many programs. It creates the idealistic summer camp experience for children who otherwise would not be able to attend.

Longtime Mercer Island resident Susan Marinello got involved after a friend introduced her to the cause and the camp.

“It’s been such a journey,” she said of the training and of learning about the camp. She said she was especially drawn to the camp because her son was sick as a young child.

“It all fits for me because my son was sick for the first year of his life,” she said. “It’s my first marathon, but I’m challenging myself in tandem with the effort of raising money for the camp. I’ve made so many discoveries.”

She, along with another Islander, Mike Wampold, will be taking on the race this weekend.

The local effort began with Camp Korey board member Chris McReynolds, who recruited both Wampold and Marinello. The goal is to raise $300,000 for the camp. Each racer commits to raising at least $3,000 toward the overall goal. Most runners interested in taking on the NYC challenge must either qualify or earn entry through an annual drawing. This year, the team raising funds for Camp Korey was given spots in the race, and has already secured more for next year.

“It’s gone so well that next year they’ve given us more spots,” said Wampold.

“I learned about Camp Korey early in the new year and immediately knew I wanted to help,” said Marinello. The reasons were similar for Wampold, a longtime runner — the opportunity combined two things he wanted to do.

“A couple people I know are on the board,” he said. “It’s an amazing camp and I’m a runner, so it’s a great marriage to raise money and at the same time get to run the NYC marathon.”

While it’s the fifth such race for Wampold, Marinello will be racing the 26.2 miles for the first time. She said she has been training mostly on her own along the way, working up to her longest run to date before the race – 20 miles.

“I run about 25 to 30 miles a week on the Island,” she said. “It depends where, but I love doing Mercer Island and across the bridge. I recently ran from the park and ride around Lake Washington. That was a long run.”

Wampold said he likes running from his house to Seward Park and back.

“It’s a fun run,” he said. The changes in scenery around the Island and over the bridge will help the runners prepare for the changes in scenery in New York. The marathon takes racers through each borough, beginning on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge on Staten Island, winding through Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, before heading into Manhattan.

“I’m most looking forward to running through all the boroughs,” said Wampold. “They are so distinctive and different. Each place has its own culture and its very ethnic.”

While training, the group is also raising money to help get as many kids to the camp as they can. In raising money, each is taking their own approach to the task. Wampold said he is using the team’s website and sending out emails to family and friends to let them know about the cause.

“I’ve found it’s a pretty easy pitch to people,” said the runner. He said he hopes to raise $5,000 toward the overall goal.

“The sky’s the limit,” said Marinello. “There’s such a need — there really is no cap.”

Marinello’s approach has also been to send out emails, sharing experiences of her training and telling stories. One of her recent emails, shared after a trip to Washington, D.C., pondered the different outfits that runners wear around the world, and concluding that Seattle’s wear the brightest colors and are most likely to nod hello. She, too, has found the pitch has been easy for people to hear.

“I encourage everyone to go visit,” she said of the camp. “Just the views and the setting is amazing. What moved me from the moment I arrived was that every bunk has a homemade quilt that’s unique. It’s really designed to capture the complete summer camp experience – for a sick kid to feel like everything is normal for a couple of weeks.”

Marinello recently hit her $4,000 goal, and said she quickly upped it to $5,000.

“The pages remain open until the end of the year, so we have plenty of opportunity to keep raising funds,” she said. So far the team has raised over $150,000 toward the overall goal.

To learn more about the team or to donate to Susan or Mike’s fundraising, visit

Donate via Facebook

If you would like to help the Camp Korey cause, visit and $1 will be donated for every ‘like’ the page gets.

The group’s goal is to hit 30,000 ‘likes’, and inches closer everyday.



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