Some people run for their health, others to clear their minds, but on Nov. 3, county attorney Jeremy Novak will run the ING New York City Marathon to raise money for the Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf Guild.
Novak has had friends and family affected by cancer and saw a great opportunity to raise money for those suffering from cancer locally.
Currently, cancer patients who live in Gulf County must travel to Panama City for chemotherapy, radiation treatments or pre-screening. Novak believes that by raising money to make those options available through Sacred Heart will provide patients with convenience and comfort.
Novak practices law both privately and for the county and wouldn’t put “marathon runner” on his next resume, but that won’t stop him from returning to the event he first completed four years ago.
“I’m not a runner. I have no business doing this,” laughed Novak.
His devotion to the cause is what will take Novak on a 26.2 mile run across Manhattan, Central Park and all five boroughs of New York.
While he said that he could raise funds for the American Cancer Society, Novak wants to ensure that large corporations don’t take a chunk of the money so he decided to donate right to the source.
“I know people who were blessed to have early detection,” he said. “I want the money to stay in Gulf County.”
Novak has set up a donation account online to raise funds through the website CrowdRise.com. His goal is to raise $5,000 for the Guild and he’s over halfway there.
Residents and businesses who wish to support Novak can log onto the website and pledge for each mile of the marathon. Whereas four years ago he had to send letters and take donations by mail, the internet has made the process much more streamlined and efficient.
“Friends, family and local businesses have been tremendous in their support,” he said. “It’s amazing how easy it is to get the word out.”
In addition to local donations Novak said that he’s shocked at the support he’s received from people he doesn’t even know.
Supporters from California, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have all donated to his cause.
During his previous marathon experience, Novak was able to raise several thousand dollars to keep his local Kiwanis Club going.
This time, his desire to run to support the Sacred Heart Guild is fueled by more than a good cause; he also considers it fate.
Novak said that he was born in a Sacred Heart Hospital as were his brothers, and his grandfather was a doctor in one for many years. Needless to say, Novak was thrilled when a branch of the hospital landed in his backyard three years ago.
Last year’s NYC Marathon was canceled due to uninvited guest Hurricane Sandy, so Novak anticipates an extra-large turnout for this year’s event.
“It’s going to be a special year,” said Novak. “There’s always so much energy on the streets.”
He described his first experience with the NYC Marathon as “inspiring.” It was there that he ran alongside thousands of other runners from all walks of life, some of which were in wheelchairs, on crutches, were elderly, amputees and some who were completely blind and ran alongside a guide.
“The spirit is incredible,” said Novak.
Novak and his wife, Kellee relocated to Port St. Joe from New Jersey 10 years ago and he’s excited that his family will be in New York to cheer him on as he runs.
To prepare for the big run, Novak has spent the past few months conditioning, running 20-25 miles a week.
He runs along old Highway 98 in St. Joe Beach, which allows him to enjoy the view while he trains for the big day.
The Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf Guild is a volunteer organization that hosts fundraisers for health-related needs in the community.
The Guild will receive funds from Novak’s run to be used locally for cancer screening and to purchase hospital equipment that will benefit cancer patients. The Guild does not provide chemotherapy or radiation treatment but aims to support the hospital in any measures to make the services available.
Donations to support Novak’s marathon run can be made online at www.crowdrise.com/jeremynovak or by calling Paulina Pendarvis at 850-229-5601.