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McCarren 5K Fundraises for At-Risk After School Programs

WILLIAMSBURG — Runners and walkers can stride with purpose at McCarren Park track Saturday morning — to support kids' camps slated to close by the end of summer.

The McCarren 5K is the first running race to raise money for the community group St. Nick's Alliance's six summer camps, three of which must close after August due to a loss of government funding. Half of Brooklyn's 153 after-school and summer programs will close in the fall because of budget cuts.

"The run is not going to address the after school crisis because the problem is too big," said Lai-Wan Wong, director of St. Nick's after school and summer programs, "but it's a great community event that shows support for the young people and the families."

The run, organized by St. Nick's and NYC Runs, kicks off at 10 a.m. and costs $40 to register (or $10 for youth 18 and younger). All proceeds go to St. Nick's six summer camps serving 700 children in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The funds will go towards extra field trips and enrichment activities in the government-funded programs.

"We've done a walk to fundraise for camps for many years but we're extremely excited to make this a larger community event," said  Wong, who noted that relay races and other family-friendly carnival-like activities will be at the park as part of the event.

"We want to make them as fabulous as they can be," said Wong of the programs, "with a worry that after this summer they might not come back." St. Nick's programs at School Settlement, P.S. 34, and P.S. 18 are all facing closure in September.

Wong said participants can run or walk in the race, after which a public recognition ceremony will be held for St. Nick's volunteers at 11 a.m.

The run kicks off at Leonard Street between Manhattan Avenue and Bayard Street, and registration  can be done online or at the meet. Youths can run for free if they secure at least $40 in donations.