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Attendees like Ray Chaya stood by the starting line of the inaugural GLOW YMCA Corporate Cup 5k race Thursday surrounded by energetic and upbeat runners, competing, but also knowing their support had made a difference before they even tied up their neon running shoes.

Chaya has long played basketball at the Y (though he swims now to decrease pressure on his joints) even stopping every so often during our conversation to greet an old buddy. He spent the evening mingling and volunteering by handing out water and bananas to the runners after they crossed the finish line of the more-than-three-mile race. But reconnecting with those basketball players and taking in the massive display of support for the Y was a treat.

“The Y has been a real standard in my life trying to stay healthy and exercising,” the BEST Center director at GCC said. “Everybody just gathers around an idea and embraces it and comes out to have fun and raise money and meet with one another. You get a sense of community spirit. It would be nice if we did this every week.”

About 500 runners and walkers participated in the fundraiser for the GLOW Region YMCA, starting and ending in Centennial Park in Batavia. The event was spear-headed by the Batavia office of Merrill Lynch and featured 24 tents of area businesses.

Organizer Steven Tufts of Merrill Lynch says many were eager to support the Y.

“When we went to other companies and said, ‘We’re going to be the lead dog on something that’s going to be great for the Y’ many people knew exactly what we were talking about because it was being done in the big cities and they said, ‘How can we help? Where do we sign up?’”

The first to cross the finish line was Brandon Rebert with National Grid with a time of 17 minutes, 46 seconds. Danielle Mellon from UMMC was the first woman to finish.

Batavia City Schools took home a large silver trophy finishing as the top team.

Hundreds more remained in the park for what was called the After GLOW, the area’s largest office party with a live band.

Organizers expect to make it an annual event.

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