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Runners line up for Charleroi's Little Great Race

Joe Napsha
| Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Charleroi is gearing up for the 27th annual running of the Charleroi Federal Little Great Race on Saturday, a 5-kilometer competition that gives a big boost to its scholarship recipients and to two youngsters who will receive financial support, a race organizer said.

The organizers of the Little Great Race are expecting more 1,000 runners and walkers who will follow the race route through downtown Charleroi, said Vic Vitale of Monongahela, chairman of the Little Great Race Inc. The course starts at 8:15 a.m. at 1 Chamber Plaza and ends at the Chamber Plaza.

“This is a pretty popular race. People come from all over the tri-state. We give food and prizes and nice T-shirts,” said Vitale, whose committee has been operating the race since 1992.

Vitale, an insurance agency executive in Charleroi, said that the 2012 race was almost “blown away” by a storm, but it still attracted about 800 people.

The top three overall male and female runners and walkers will receive awards. Rewards also are given to the top three winners in various age groups. Every finisher will receive socks, gloves and a towel.

For the past dozen years, proceeds from the Little Great Race go toward helping sick or injured people, as well as providing college scholarships.

The race derives its name from the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race , which is held the last Sunday of September. In the first few years of Charleroi's Little Great Race, it was held a week before the Great Race, Vitale said.

For some runners, the Little Great Race could be a tune-up for Pittsburgh's Great Race, Vitale said.

Vitale said they hope to give between $2,000 and $2,500 apiece to the this year's beneficiaries: Alicia Hruby, 15, of Monongahela, the daughter of Tim and Donna Marie Hruby, and Aidan Knox, 10, of Bentleyville, the son of Lance and Jamie Knox.

Hruby, who has an enlarged liver, is on a waiting list for a liver transplant, according to a website blog devoted to her fight against the disease. Hruby was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, with an autoimmune hepatitis overlap that caused cirrhosis of the liver. She has suffered from bone pain that leaves her unable to walk long distances without the use of crutches or a transport chair.

Knox was diagnosed in September 2012 with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, and has undergone chemotherapy treatment at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. His post-treatment bone scans on Aug. 20 did not show any signs of the disease, according to an Aug. 23 posting on the Facebook page, “Live the Proof for Aidan.”

The race also will benefit two 2013 Charleroi Area High School graduates – Sara Folsom and Brandi Duvuvei – who are starting college. They are the recipients of $1,000 Adam Boyd Scholarships, which is named for a boy who died of cancer at age 14 in January 2004.

Folsom, of James and Deborah Folsom, will attend the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg where she will major in accounting. Her sister, Jessica Folsom, received an Adam Boyd Scholarship last year.

Duvuvei, the daughter of Robert and Laurie Duvuvei, plans to attend Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, to study nursing.

Another scholarship will be given in memory of Mary Ann Ghilani, a Little Great Race committee member who died of cancer in January 2012, Vitale said. Ghilani's family is giving the scholarship to a student, who has not been publicly identified, Vitale said.

The race organization committee has dedicated this year's race to Ghilani.

Registration for the race remains open and can be completed online at the Little Great Race website. The deadline for general registration is Sept. 5 and the fee is $23. Raceday registration is available for $25.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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