Saturday, June 10, 2000

Spaghetti Nob serves goodness

Celebration continues through Sunday

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Some like bar hopping. Others prefer the movies or a video and pizza at home. But, when it came to Friday night entertainment in Newport, more than 200 chose to participate in the Spaghetti Nob 5K Run and Walk.

        The event, which had runners racing and loping along several hilly streets, was part of Newport's Festa Italiana. The annual celebration highlights opera, lasagna, big families and many things Italian. It began Thursday and will conclude Sunday evening.

        Those who spent Friday night running and walking in the 5K event did so for a good cause. All proceeds go to New Perceptions, an Edgewood agency that serves mentally disabled children and adults.

        All participants received $5 in Pasta Bucks. The fake money — red and bearing tiny maps of Italy — assured them that amount in free ravioli, spaghetti, elephant ears, snow cones and whatever else they desired after sweating through five kilometers (3.1 miles).

        “I'm gonna eat,” promised first-place winner Derek Griffiths, 24, of Blue Ash. He finished the race in just shy of 17 minutes.

        He hoped to find some chicken parmesan at the festival, which is happening at the Newport Shopping Center. The way he saw it: He likes chicken and he likes spaghetti.

        “And there you've got both,” he said.

        The first walker across the finish line was Bonnie Meyer, 44, of Fort Thomas. She also was hoping to use her Pasta Bucks, namely for some spaghetti by Pompilio's Restaurant of Newport.

        She didn't think it so odd to be walking on a Friday night. She usually walks four or five times a week.

        “It's just that you're walking with a group instead of walking by yourself,” she said.

        New Perceptions, a nonprofit United Way agency, relies heavily on grants, donations and events like Friday's 5K to help disabled infants, toddlers and adults.

        It operates a workshop for adults, which trains and employs them in assembly and package work.

        The agency also trains people for outside jobs and helps places them, as well as preparing infants and preschoolers for public school.

        Last year, the 5K event attracted about 115 runners and raised about $3,500 for New Perceptions. It went toward the agency's general operating fund, said community relations manager Sandy Zentmeyer. The same will happen with this year's proceeds.

        “We see it as a starting point,” Ms. Zentmeyer said.

        Race organizer Don Connolly said the Italian festival's 5K race is gaining popularity. He thinks people like the idea of helping others while also enjoying the festival and a little bit of exercise.

        “You have your race for the week,” he said.


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