It's a race that has been raising awareness on the dangers of drugs for years.
"This running race is bittersweet, every time I come down here, I have a tear in my eye," said Ginger Katz, Founder and CEO of the Courage to Speak Foundation.
Over 150 runners took their mark at Calf Pasture Beach early Saturday morning for the 16th Annual Ian Eaccarino Memorial 9-mile race, to remember a young man who lost his life to a drug overdose 18 years ago. After losing her 20 year old son, Ian Eaccarino to an overdose, Ginger Katz began reaching out to drug prevention resources and established the Courage To Speak Foundation in 1996.
"After he died we decided to speak out, people told us we should tell people a lie and that he died of a heart attack and we couldn't do that, I couldn't burry my son with a lie. He was a good kid and he made an unhealthy decision to use drugs, but I wasn't ashamed of him."
As avid runners, Katz and her husband Larry, organized an annual memorial run after the tragedy. With sponsorship from the Norwalk Parks and Recreation Department and the Lightfoot Running Club, the race raises around $4,000 each year. The funds go to the non-profit organization's local and national drug prevention programs for elementary, middle and high schools.
"They could have taken this tragedy and just have internalized it and gone into hiding and just had remorse over it," said Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling. "But what they did was, they decided to bring this strong message to young people and to families."
Every year the foundation grants a special award to the youngest runner. It also offers courses to encourage effective communication between parents and children.
"For every life they save, everything is worth it," said Rilling. "Just one life is touched and changed forever, all the effort is worth it."
For more information on the foundation visit couragetospeak.org.