Runners ignore cold day to kick off Red Kettle season for Brackenridge Salvation Army | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Runners ignore cold day to kick off Red Kettle season for Brackenridge Salvation Army

Chuck Biedka
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Chuck Biedka | Tribune-Review
Red Kettle Run for a Reason competitor Chassity Mays of Brownsburg, Ind., talks with Brackenridge Salvation Army Lt. Alex Senak after the benefit 5K Saturday. Mays turned in the fastest time for women competitors.
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Chuck Biedka | Tribune-Review
Dean Banko of New Florence, Westmoreland County, led all runners in the inaugural Race for a Reason by the Brackenridge Salvation Army.
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Chuck Biedka | Tribune-Review
Lt. Alex Senak, a pastor at the Brackenridge Salvation Army with his wife, Lt. Kelsey Senak, with children Ezekiel, almost 2, and Emersyn, 5 months, talked just after the 5K Run for A Reason. The 3-mile benefit race was from Brackenridge to Tarentum and back.

Chassity Mays has a goal of racing in every state.

On Saturday, Mays of Brownsburg, Ind., turned in the best time for a woman racing in the inaugural Red Kettle Run for a Reason. The 5K race is a fundraiser for the Salvation Army Allegheny Valley Worship and Service Center in Brackenridge.

“My 10-year-old son is at Monroeville wrestling in a tournament,” she said. “This was a chance for me to race in Pennsylvania.”

About 65 men, women and children took part in the race. Each paid $15 to $20.

It was fewer than planners had hoped but not bad for an inaugural race on a chilly day.

“This was a way we wanted to start our kettle season with a bang. All the money we raise is for the kettle effort,” said Lt. Alex Senak, a pastor at the Salvation Army with his wife and copastor, Lt. Kelsey Senak.

Racers started at the Army’s recreation hall at 917 Brackenridge Ave., ran or walked into Tarentum and returned past the Allegheny Technologies Inc. steel mill.

The kettle drive purchases toys for children in the Alle-Kiski Valley, as well as food and clothing.

“It really helps us do what we do as the Salvation Army,” Lt. Alex Senak said.

The Allegheny Valley Salvation Army is seeking to raise about $125,000 from the kettle collection this year.

It will be easier to donate even if there is no cash in your pocket, Lt. Kelsey Senak said.

The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division has placed smart chips and QR codes on Red Kettle signs across Western Pennsylvania, allowing shoppers to “bump” or scan their phones to make a digital donation.

When phones are bumped, givers will be directed to a donation page that accepts Apple Pay or Google Pay options. The funds will be distributed to local Salvation Army units based on the donor’s billing ZIP code, and an email receipt will be sent directly to the giver’s phone.

Dean Banko of New Florence posted the best overall race Saturday with a time of 17 minutes 19 seconds.

Mays completed the 3.2-mile course in 19:32.

Medals were also given to winners of the top three men and women in six age groups: 19 and younger, and then runners in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60 and older.

Bruce Goodman Jr., 11, of Bethel Park completed the route in just under 24 minutes. He runs cross country for St. Thomas Moore School, said his mother, Victoria.

Plum residents Annabel Everett, 8, ran next to mother Suzie Gardner, who was pushing a jogging stroller with Violet Everett, 6, inside.

“This was Annabel’s fourth 5K,” said Gardner, who used to run marathons.

Matt Yonkoske of Fawn and his daughter, Faith, 7, ran as a father-and-daughter team. Both said they had fun.

Michele Belak of Delmont ran with her rescue buddy, Gabe, a sheep dog mix. The two also volunteer for an area search-and-rescue team.

“Gabe always beats me,” Belak said. “We did good because we finished.”

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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