County attorney Jeremy Novak recently returned from a trip to New York City.


County attorney Jeremy Novak recently returned from a trip to New York City.



Whereas some may have spent their trip to the big city enjoying fancy restaurants, taking in the sights of the skyscrapers or relaxing in Central Park, Novak spent his weekend on a 26.2-mile run across Manhattan and its five boroughs as a contestant in the ING New York City Marathon.



Novak ran the marathon to raise money for the Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf Guild. The dollars will be used to purchase cancer screening and treatment equipment.



Novak also was among the top 10 finishers out of Florida.



Novak’s personal goal was to raise $5,000 but by the day of the marathon, his donations rose to more than $6,700.



Currently, cancer patients in Gulf County must travel to Panama City for chemotherapy and radiation treatments or pre-screening and Sacred Heart is working hard to bring those services to the community.



Novak raised his money through CrowdRise.com, a website that allowed him to accept donations from people all over the United States. In addition to his friends, family and supporters in the community, Novak received money from strangers in California, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.



This isn’t Novak’s first rodeo. Four years ago he ran the same marathon to raise money for his Kiwanis Club.



“Having done it before, it took the edge off for the unknown,” said Novak.



Many runners take on the famed marathon for charity purposes. Leading up to the NYC marathon, more than $50 million was collected for various charities.



“A couple people raising $50,000 is nothing extraordinary, but put them together and raising $50 million is extraordinary,” said Novak. “Not bad for some ‘Average Joes’”



Novak called the accomplishments of the various runners inspirational and encouraged more people to donate their time to ease the stress of someone else.



Last year’s marathon was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy which impacted 24 states, caused power outages across Manhattan and created an economic loss of more than $18 billion in New York and New Jersey.



Meanwhile in nearby Boston a tragedy struck in April when two men detonated bombs during the city’s annual marathon six months ago.



Despite those tragedies, Novak said that the mindset of his fellow runners was overwhelmingly positive and the marathon welcomed more than 50,000 athletes of all skill levels.



When registering, each runner was given a blue ribbon to show support for the victims of the Boston Marathon and Novak reported that a large number of competitors wore “Boston Strong” T-shirts.



“After 9/11, cities rallied around New York, and New York City really rallied support for Boston,” said Novak.



Novak began his run on the Verrazano Bridge on a chilly, 45 degree morning, but by the time he reached Brooklyn, the sun broke through the clouds and he was treated to perfect running weather.



Running at his side was his younger brother, Matt.



The inspiration never stopped, and as Novak ran he said that the cheers coming from friends and family along the marathon route never let up. Novak’s wife Kellee cheered and waved encouraging signs from several points along the route.



Though at times during the run, he found himself exhausted, Novak drew inspiration from his fellow runners. He reported seeing a couple who were running together to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, returning military veterans and firemen running in full fire gear as a 9/11 tribute.



“It was awesome in terms of the people and there was constant cheering,” said Novak. “The spirit is incredible.”



Novak ended up beating his previous marathon time by one minute, but for the attorney, the $6,700 raised for local cancer patients is the real win.



Novak said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”



The Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf Guild is a volunteer organization that hosts fundraisers for health-related needs in the community.