Trumbull residents 'race for Chase'

Trumbull residents are gearing up to honor Sandy Hook victims and raise money for the Chase Kowalski Memorial Fund, by running a marathon March 16.

Maureen Gutowski and Margaret Walsh are employed by Fitness 4000 in Monroe where Rebecca Kowalski is a member. On Dec.14, Rebecca Kowalski was finishing a fitness class while her son, Chase, was at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Chase was one of the 20 children killed by the shooter.

Gutowski and Walsh spent the holidays wondering how they could help support the fund, that was created by Rebecca and Steve Kowalski, to honor the memory of their son. Both Gutowski and Walsh are avid runners, having completed 10 marathons between them, and one ultra-relay race.

“We decided on doing the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon in Washington D.C. because it was the closest to Connecticut and the soonest big race.” Gutowski said.

Gutowski remembers Chase from the days he came to the gym with his mom.

“The organizers of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon could not have been more helpful in helping support this cause on their website,”Walsh said.

Word spread about the effort to support the fund through the Rock ‘n’ Roll website, grabbing the attention of a runner from Burke, Virginia, who is going to run his very first marathon to honor Sandy Hook victims and raise money with Gutowski and Walsh.

Special race shirts were designed for the race by Austin Baskett, President of Leg Lube and were produced by a Trumbull company, Event Swag.

“When I showed the shirt design to some of the other Fitness 4000 employees, everyone wanted one,” Gutowski said.

Jim Lynch, President of Event Swag added, “I have produced race shirts for a lot of fundraisers. This one was an honor to be part of because the tragedy was so close to home.”

The shirt has the names of all 26 victims on the back.

“I am certain this will be my most emotional marathon experience,” Walsh said. “I will have the names of all Sandy Hook victims on my back and with each of the 26 miles, one mile will be dedicated to each victim.”

Fitness 4000 is also raising money for the Chase Kowalski Scholarship Fund.

"This tragedy really touched us and moved the employees and members of Fitness 4000 to want to help and comfort in whatever way they could,” Corey Calise, General Manager, Fitness 4000 said. “It's great to see people come together for a positive cause. Fitness 4000 has raised nearly $1,000 so far for the Chase Kowlaski Scholarship Fund.”

Rebecca Kowalski thanked her friends for honoring her son’s memory.

“We are thrilled that my friends, Margaret and Maureen, are honoring Chase and all of the angels from Sandy Hook in their upcoming Rock n Roll Marathon,” Kowalski said.  “Chase was a quiet, sweet little boy of 3 years when Maureen [Gutowski] first baby-sat him in our local gym. This was about the time Chase started his running career, unbeknownst to both of them. I'm sure they would have run in many races together had they known of their common passion for running. We have fond memories running together when we all raced together in the sprint for Monroe this past June. We wish Maureen and Margaret the best in this Race4Chase.”