Miles for Mia brings runners together

As Trumbull's Jim McCaffrey pushed his 5-year-old son James in a stroller along the Faxon Law Fairfield Road Races Half Marathon course on Sunday, the Walk The Moon song "Shut Up And Dance With Me," could be heard coming from one of the yards.

"My son started singing and it was great. It added momentum the whole way," McCaffrey, 36, said. This was a song his daughter Mia used to dance to, and McCaffrey and his son were taking part in the race in her memory; Mia passed away because of cancer this past March, at the age of 6.

McCaffrey, a coach at Trumbull High School, and his family inspired several of his cross country team members to run the race in honor of Mia, as part of the Miles For Mia team.

McCaffrey said that fundraising efforts through the Dennis Lindwall Foundation is providing $200,000 for research into Mia's specific form of cancer.

The Miles For Mia team, which was coordinated by the Pfohl family, included cross country team members from recent years.

Sydney Adams, one of those participants, pointed out that even with a stroller, McCaffrey managed to beat her to the finish line.

"It was an honor to run for someone who's been so inspirational in our lives," Adams said.

The participants found plenty of inspiration and motivation when they thought about Mia.

"I always kept Mia in the back of my mind to push me," said Valerie Mingrone, another former cross country runner and first time half marathoner.

"It was very meaningful. Thinking about Mia as I was running really kept me going," said Francesca Esposito, another former Trumbull High runner who also participated in her first half marathon.

Siblings Shane and Kate Romanchick both ran the race as part of the Miles For Mia team. Their mom, Lisa Romanchick, has participated in several Fairfield Half Marathons and this year did the Faxon Law Fairfield Road Race's 5K event the day before the half marathon.

Shane, who ran cross country and track at Trumbull High, said, “Coach McCaffrey has done a lot to help me with my running and thinking of Mia made me push harder.”

Shane placed 29th overall, with a time of 1:26.43. It was his third Fairfield Half Marathon.

"I don't think I would have been able to finish it without her," Kate Romanchick said of running in honor of Mia.

McCaffrey, a volunteer with Long Hill Fire Company, helped Long Hill win first place in the 5K Police/Fire Team event. Long Hill participated in the Lucas Challenge, meaning its representatives raced in both the 5K and half marathon races.

The half marathon was won by West Hartford's Everett Hackett in 1:07.15.

The top female was New Hartford’s Annmarie Tuxbury, who was 13th in 1:20.10.

John Sullivan, who placed 33rd in 1:27.05, has completed two full marathons, but still finds finishing the Fairfield Half, which he has done three times, quite rewarding.

"The last couple miles are always a challenge, especially when it's hot out," Sullivan said.

Trumbull's John Scinto was 42nd in 1:28.59 and Wantuil Souza came in 57th in 1:30.38.