Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Finishing won't be her only reward

Garofalo's Flying Pig run raising money for fire department

By Colleen Kane
The Cincinnati Enquirer

What Brage Garofalo remembers most about her father was that he was always playing practical jokes, always trying to be funny.

And so it's fitting that she run the Flying Pig in his honor - because just saying the name of the marathon makes her smile.

"Very few times in life do you get to say those two words in one sentence - Flying Pig," Garofalo said, laughing.

Stuart Green would have loved it.

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Garofalo got to spend only five years of her life with her father. On July 4, 1974, he was trying to light a grill with charcoal and lighter fluid. When nothing happened, he squirted more fluid and blew on the briquettes. The fire exploded, and Green lost his life.

The 5-year-old Garofalo wasn't there, but 30 years later she is doing something to help others who are affected by fire. She's running in her third marathon.

Through private and corporate sponsors of her race in the Flying Pig, Garofalo has raised $9,272.22 and counting for the fire department of her hometown, South San Francisco, Calif. She is one of many marathoners who could help the Pig raise nearly $1 million for various charities this year, according to Pig officials.

"I'm of the belief that it's important to be involved in the community and give back," Garofalo said. "It just made sense to do something for the fire department. They do so much more than their standard duties."

The money, $5,000 of which was donated by Garofalo's company, Genentech, will be used to buy a new thermal imaging camera, which helps firefighters to locate people in darkness, smoke and shallow water and to determine if a fire has spread into attics, walls or floors.

The fire department already has one camera and would like to buy one for each of its fire engines, but it hasn't been able to find money in its budget, said Susan Kennedy, public information officer for the fire department.

"Without her effort, we'd be relying on potential grant funding, which is always a crapshoot, or waiting for the economy to come around or the occasional donation - but we're talking about $10-12,000 here," Kennedy said. "It's tremendous to have one of your residents who takes on a project and has the commitment and passion that she has."

Garofalo hopes to someday set up a race in her father's name that will help benefit the fire department's burn foundation. But first, she will deliver on her next commitment - finishing the Pig's 26.2 miles.

Like her father, who was "not a sedentary man," always running, sailing, diving and riding motorcycles, Garofalo was active early in life. She ran on her high school's track team, and always had the ambition to try a marathon. She did her first in Napa, Calif., in 2001, for which she also raised $4,500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. She ran her second in Las Vegas last year.

"It was a life goal of mine," Garofalo said. "You know how you have that big to-do list for life? One of them was running a marathon. And after you do one, it just sort of grows on you."

A native of Chicago and a resident of South San Francisco, Garofalo has never been to Cincinnati. After getting over the soreness, nausea and "never again" moment at mile 20 in Las Vegas, she chose the Pig as her third marathon - strictly for its fun factor.

She has been training alone, and will also make the trip cross-country by herself - armed with race gear given to her by the fire department, and with the memory of her father.

"It helps immensely," Garofalo said. "It's all mental when you get into those higher miles. You're tired, you're aching, you're hungry or nauseous ... but when you've got someone in your head, it gets you through those higher miles."


Flying Pig Marathon schedule of races:


Bob Roncker's Running Spot Health and Fitness Expo/Packet Pick-up at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


• Kahn's Flying Piglet Kids' Fun Run at Sawyer Point, 9 a.m.


(All events begin at Paul Brown Stadium and end at Sawyer Point)

• Walking Division, 5 a.m.

• Wheelchair Event, 6:28 a.m.

• Marathon, 6:30 a.m.

• Relay Events, 6:30 a.m.

• Papa John's 10K, 6:50 a.m.

• Visit for more details.

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