The “Run on the Runway” race has become one of the major fundraisers for the JFK Rotary Club. Funds raised from the race are used to support scholarships, sponsor terminally ill children from countries with limited medical and technological services, for life-saving heart operations at local hospitals through Rotary’s Gift of Life Program, sponsors annual Christmas parties for handicapped children from the local schools (including Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, Mill Neck, NY) which is held in the jetBlue hangar at JFK Airport. For example, the 2017 Christmas party was attended by over 350 children. Sponsors included jetBlue, HMS Host, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Poland Spring, and many others.
The JFK Rotary Club sponsors a barbecue for learning-disabled children of PS 213 each spring of the year, initiated a new program in 1995 to provide Thanksgiving Dinners for needy families from the communities surrounding the Airport, helps with shipping of relief supplies to Rotary Clubs in distressed areas throughout the world and supported Katrina victims with used clothing and has worked on providing support to earthquake victims in Pakistan with clothing and medical supplies.
The first race was run in April 1972. Until 2000 it was a 10K race which started at the Ramada Plaza JFK Hotel parking lot and to the runway and back to the hotel. Due to problems with traffic control on the public roads, the Port Authority requested we take part of the race off public roads and contain it to the runways. In 2002, it was decided to change it to a 5K race. It is a unique race as the main runway is actually closed to aircraft landing and taking off. Airplanes are routed to land and take off from a secondary runway during the race. During its history, the race has never been canceled. As a result of 9/11 and the Boston Marathon incident, security has become a major issue in planning the race. The Rotary Club works very closely with the airport authorities to ensure that the security programs in place are strictly adhered to. Runners actually run on the longest runway at JFK which is almost 14,000 feet, although only a short portion of the main runway is used for the 5K race.
Due to the event’s growing popularity, this website was developed in February 2006.
The following is a list of charities that benefit from the race’s funds. (Answered on the FAQ page):
Question # 045: What charities do the funds from the race go to?
A: The fund is distributed throughout the following charities, both past and present:
- Airline Employees Children’s Cancer Victims
- Aviation Student Scholarship August Martin H.S.
- Cancer Walk-a-thon
- Children’s Christmas Party for Special Needs Children
- Easter Seals Walk
- J.E.T.S. (Joining Everyone to Share)
- JFK Christ for the World Chapel
- JFK U.S. Customs Explorer Program
- Lupus Foundation
- Our Lady of the Skies
- PALS (Patient Airlift Services)
- Queens Boy Scout Air Explorers
- Rotary District 7250 Veteran’s Program
- St. Baldrick’s Cancer Fund
- School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center
- Student Scholarship Aviation H.S.
- Thanksgiving Dinners for Airline Employees needy families