Wai Law is once again putting in the miles in an effort to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research and mental health support for young people on Long Island.
On the morning of Friday, July 22, the Bethpage accountant and avid ultramarathoner began a 320-plus-mile, solo long-distance run at Stony Brook University, heading east on what will be a complete a loop around the entire perimeter of Long Island, running through coastal towns of the North and South Shores, through Brooklyn and Queens, and eventually reaching the finish line back at SBU.
The goal is to bring awareness while raising $32,000 for two local programs at Stony Brook University:
The Thomas Hartman Center for Parkinson’s Research – is dedicated solely to basic science research into the causes of Parkinson’s disease and its symptoms.
The Adolescent Medicine Fund for Excellence – which helps Stony Brook’s Department of Adolescent Medicine provide mental health support and other critical resources to young people on Long Island.
Last summer, Wai completed walking/running the 555-mile Empire State Trail from Buffalo to New York City. In the process, he and his team raised more than $40,000 ($22,555 for Parkinson’s Disease research at Stony Brook University and $17,500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). The trip was inspired by Law’s friend, Dennis Almodovar of Massapequa, whose dad, Ruben, died at age 80 in 2017 of the disease. This summer, the dedicated duo are looking to repeat these successes on their home turf.
“The Thomas Hartman Canter for Parkinson’s Research and the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior at Stony Brook University are deeply grateful to Wai and Dennis for their outstanding continued friendship and support,” said Dr. Alfredo Fontanini, chair of the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior, Stony Brook University. “Their ultra-runs and their commitment to raising awareness for Parkinson’s research and mental health are truly inspiring for all of us involved in neuroscience research and development of new therapeutic approaches.”
“Mental health disorders are prevalent among adolescents and young adults and rates have increased throughout the pandemic,” said Dr. Allison Eliscu, division chief of Adolescent Medicine, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. “We’re thankful for the community support through the tireless activities of Wai and Dennis which will enable us to help many more adolescents who are struggling. In adolescent medicine, we are dedicated to ensuring access to mental health care and focused on providing resilience and coping skills, as well as breaking the stigma associated with mental illness.”
Both Wai and Almodovar are always thinking about the overall wellness of not only their children but other youth and young adults in the community.
“We need to continue to advocate and encourage the youth to seek help, as well as educate parents and the society as a whole to recognize that mental health disorders among the younger generation is real and addressing this issue is critically important,” said Wai. “With the support of the community, I’m hoping that these first steps can be taken together towards a brighter and better future.”
“The mental health issue has been prevalent throughout the pandemic and is ongoing. Through his run, Wai wants people to reach out for help, especially the younger people struggling each day,” said Almodovar. “Parkinson’s is near and dear to my heart but what people don’t realize is the two could be very closely related because many times, people who have Parkinson’s also have some sort of depression. My father experienced depression. People with neurological conditions, like Parkinson’s, are at higher risk for suicide. Since Stony Brook University has strong programs for both, it was a good opportunity for us to make a difference.”
Law completed his opening three-day journey despite a heatwave that enveloped Long Island. Day one took Law from Stony Brook to Orient Point, and day two on July 23 saw Law trek from Orient Point to Montauk. His third leg covered the roads from Montauk to Westhampton.
Law will continue his two-part trek on Thursday, July 28, running from Westhampton to Seaford, then on July 29 from Seaford to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Day six will see Law run from Brooklyn to Huntington, and his final leg on Sunday, July 31, will begin in Huntington and end back at Stony Brook University.
To donate by mail, make checks payable to the “Stony Brook Foundation” and indicate “Run for Mental Health/Parkinson’s Research” on the check’s memo section. Mail to: Stony Brook Foundation, Inc., 230 Administration, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-1188.