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Pittsburgh Marathon charities continue to grow each year

| Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, 4:09 p.m.

Perhaps thinking too far ahead to May 5, Pittsburgh Marathon organizers and their charity partners gathered outdoors in Market Square on a breezy mid-winter Tuesday morning to discuss the upcoming fifth anniversary of the race and celebrate the $5 million raised for charity since its return in 2009.

Race director Patrice Matamoros said organizers expect 30,000 runners — the largest crowd in event history —to participate this year, including the full marathon, half-marathon, relay, 5K and kids' marathon.

They are on track for registration to sell out within “the next couple days,” and once that happens, Matamoros said, the only way for runners to secure a spot on race day will be through charities.

The number of charities benefitting from the marathon has jumped from five in 2009 to 70 in 2013. One of the groups on hand Tuesday was the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center, and executive director Dan Rossi said the partnership has been “life changing” for the organization.

“Our gala was our largest fundraiser, but we're predicting that this year the marathon will overtake that,” Rossi said. “Last year, we raised over $93,000 and we're looking to do $150,000 through this event. It's huge.”

One of their youngest fundraisers, 5-year-old Claire Conti, of Cheswick, also was on hand. Too young to volunteer at the shelter, Conti began a campaign in December and collected $1,500 worth of materials and goods for the shelter. She has raised $700 as a running partner who will participate in the kids' marathon.

Genre Baker, diagnosed with leukemia in 2009 at age 8 and cancer-free for three years, also attended. Along with his parents, Baker started Genre's Kids with Cancer Fund after his illness to help give handheld video games and MP3 players to other pediatric cancer patients in the hospital.

“Other kids didn't have video games, and I felt bad, so I asked my parents if we could give video games away to kids, and that's how it got started,” Baker said.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kprice@tribweb.com.

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