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October 4, 2013

Pit Run to mark 20th anniversary

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — With the Pit Run turning 20 years old this Sunday, it has grown beyond the concept of when it was first organized as a 10K run to honor a local state police investigator, those interviewed Thursday said.

More than 1,800 people are expected for one of several events that make up the Ricky J. “Pit” Parisian Run. It began just months after Ricky J. “Pit” Parisian died in 1994 after trying to stop an armed robbery at an Oneonta supermarket while off duty.

The 10K, 5K race and 2-mile stroll start on the Main Street viaduct at 10:45 a.m. The Fun Run starts at 9:45 a.m. in Neahwa Park.

The Pit Run has “helped turn a tragedy into something that can help others,” one of its co-directors, Steven Parisian, said.

The original intent was to provide scholarships in memory of his brother, he said.  But with the success of the race and related activities, the Ricky J. Parisian Memorial Scholarship Foundation has presented more than $337,000 to scholarships and grants to community youth-oriented projects.

“It’s a celebration of Rick’s life, but it’s also a time of the community to come together,” Parisian said. When runners complete they race, they compliment the planners on how well organized it is, he said. “They say they will come back, and I guess they do.”

He attributed the success to the “hard-working” efforts of eight to 10 people who regularly work with the co-directors, who also include Steven Parisian’s wife, Edy, and Tim Catella.

But the organizers also depend on more than 100 volunteers who come from the community, including businesses, colleges, and high schools. They also owe a lot to the sponsors that support the event financially, Parisian said.

The state police take care of more than traffic control, he said.

“We couldn’t do it without them,” he said, and they’re tight group that has been there for both the race and the family over the years.

“Oneonta is a unique community,” he said. “Everybody is there for us and for each other.”

Mark “Sid” Parisian helps organize the Law Enforcement Benefit Ride and motorcycle raffle, besides his race activities. This year, the August ride gave away its 11th motorcycle and contributed $22,000 to the foundation.

When the Pit Run was planned, “we didn’t anticipate it would be so big,” he said. That first year, there were almost 850 people. There were a lot of people who hadn’t run before but wanted to come and pay tribute to his brother.

There are still those who participate, but “we made it more of a community event” by adding different activities.

“The community has embraced it. Like Rick’s life, it has touched countless numbers of lives,” he said. “Thanks to the foundation, it will continue to do so.”