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Lake Waramaug Polar Bear Run has record turnout 

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KENT—The 39th annual Lake Waramaug Polar Bear Run to benefit Guiding Eyes for the Blind had a record turnout Feb. 25 with 607 total finishers, the most in the event’s history. 

Runners from all over Connecticut and 12 different states came out to race. Kent had the second highest number of residents participate with 23 registered runners, trailing only New Milford with 49 runners. 

Last Sunday’s Polar Run around Lake Waramaug drew the largest crowd in its 39-year history. Contributed

William Sanders won the race with a time of 40.48 and broke his course record from last year by 37 seconds. Katie Overstrum won the women’s race with a time of 50:09. The first-place men’s finisher from Kent was Kyle McCarron in sixth place with a time of 46.14. The first-place women’s finisher from Kent was Jessica Davis with a time of 1:00:01. 

More than 75 volunteers contributed to making this year’s event a success. Volunteers from the Kent Lions Club managed the parking for roughly 500 cars. South Kent School students provided water for the runners on the course and students from Marvelwood School sang the national anthem. Kent First Selectman Marty Lindenmayer served as the announcer. 

The race is organized by TrailHeads, hosted by Hopkins Vineyard, and supported by numerous local Kent businesses, including Kent Wine & Spirit, Davis IGA, J.P. Gifford, Randy O’Rourke Photography, and Kent Falls Brewing Co. 

TrailHeads President and Co-Founder Stephanie Raftery commented, “It’s awesome to have such widespread community support. The Polar Bear Run is powered by a team of more than 75 volunteers who handle a variety of responsibilities, including parking, registration, medical support, traffic management, providing water to runners along the course, serving post-race refreshments and post-event cleanup. It’s because of this team that we are able to put together such a fun and safe race that supports the amazing work being done by Guiding Eyes for the Blind. We’re proud to announce that this year’s event raised over $10,000.” 

Guiding Eyes for the Blind raises and trains guide dogs to partner with blind and visually impaired people. This year’s donation was the largest in event history, with $10,039 raised. Guiding Eyes for the Blind has been the Run’s charitable beneficiary for the past six years, during which time the race has raised more than $34,000. 

Guiding Eyes’ facilities in Yorktown Heights and Patterson, NY, train and partner more than 160 guide dogs each year. All services are offered free of charge to those in need. This year, runners were greeted by a group of future guide dogs and their handlers who came to raise awareness about Guiding Eyes and provide support for the Run. Guiding Eyes for the Blind also offers a running guides program, which is the only one of its kind in the country. Several of their guide dogs in training and their handlers participated in the Run. 

Rebekah Cross, Director of Donor Relations and Guiding Eyes Graduate commented, “We’re so grateful to TrailHeads and every participant for their incredible support! Our work at Guiding Eyes for the Blind is only possible through the kindness of donors and volunteers like you. 

To learn more and get involved visit their site: https://www.guidingeyes.org/.

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