Story by Brian P.J. Cronin
Photo Courtesy of Drew Swiss
Running for the Future
Then Drew Swiss turned 50, he told his wife that the only gift he wanted was to run the New York City Marathon.
It wasn’t his first marathon, or his first New York City Marathon, or even his first New York City Marathon celebrating a significant birthday: he ran his first marathon on his 30th birthday in New York. “Every few years the New York marathon is on my birthday, because the race is always the first Sunday in November and my birthday is November 4th,” he says.
Two things made this race different. First, it was his first race in eight years, as he stopped racing when his children were born. Second, if he was going to get to run the marathon for his birthday, he wanted someone else to get the gifts. “I wanted to do it for a cause this time,” he says. “So I started looking around and discovered Team for Kids.”
Team for Kids is the charitable wing of the New York Road Runners club, which raises funds through racing for youth fitness programs in schools and community centers throughout New York City. For many kids in the programs, the services offered by Team for Kids are the only access to fitness programs that they have. “I instantly related to what they were doing, because when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, my mother fed me the worst kinds of food,” he says. “As a result, I had a weight issue.” He started running on his own when he was 13 in an effort to lose that weight, and has been running ever since.
Swiss has since run all of his races on behalf of Team for Kids, becoming their top fund-raiser. To date, he’s raised over $550,000 for the charity, a sum that’s even more impressive when one considers that all of it has come in from individual donations. No big checks from foundations or corporations: Swiss’s day job is serving as vice president of finance for the Montefiore Medical Center, which sometimes involves fund-raising.
So how does he raise more money than any of the hundreds of runners who run for Team for Kids every year? The old fashioned way: he just asks. “I send a personal email to every single person I’ve ever had any contact with in my whole life,” he says. “Thousands of emails. And hundreds of them donate every year.”
Swiss is currently training and fund-raising for his 31st marathon, and he isn’t going to let a little thing like the weather get in the way. When we spoke with him, he was preparing for a 20-mile training run with the New York Road Runners club in Central Park, but the projected forecast, with the heat index, was topping out at 105 degrees. “They said they’re going to cut it down to a 15-mile run because of the heat,” he says. “In which case I’ll probably just run 20 miles by myself here in Armonk. I need to get my miles in.”
After 30 marathons and half a million dollars raised, Swiss knows what he needs to do to get it done, and he’s not going to start slacking now.
The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon will be held on November 6. For more information about Drew and to donate to this great cause, visit www.runwithtfk.org/Profile/PublicPage/442.