Earlier last week, Lackawanna County Commissioner Patrick O'Malley was getting ready for a familiar car ride to Forest City High School that he takes every year, but it wasn't the ride up that was on his mind, it was the run back.
O'Malley was scheduled to take part in the 17th annual Steamtown Marathon, which began at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 7 at Forest City High School, with runners expected to begin crossing the finish line at the corner of North Washington Avenue and Spruce Street in Scranton starting at 10:15 a.m.
The commissioner is one of 13 runners who have participated in the marathon every year since its inception, and while he's completed the race every year, he decided to give himself an extra incentive to finish it this year.
"I decided I was going to do it for my sister Margie, Margie Holodnak-Davis, she was a victim of domestic violence," said O'Malley whose sister Margie was killed by her estranged husband on June 9, 1980.
"She was 16 when I was born. I'm the baby of six…. so automatically my mother made her my godmother. She died when I was 11 years old, when she was 26, and it was horrible. It was like losing your mother. We've been involved with the Women's Resource Center ever since."
The Women's Resource Center (WRC) is a private nonprofit organization founded in 1976, which serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Lackawanna and Susquehanna Counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
O'Malley, his brother, Matt, and sister, Mary Theresa O'Malley Ruddy, all raise money for the center. During the first year of the Steamtown Marathon in 1996, O'Malley ran in the name of his sister and also raised money for the Women's Resource Center.
"It was called ‘26 miles for Margie,' and it was nice, because it was a real bizarre situation, because it was the 26th anniversary of her death, she was 26 (at the time of her death) and it was 1996," said O'Malley.
Since that first year, O'Malley has run the marathon for different causes, wearing a T-shirt representing the charity or cause during the race, but he has never tried to raise funds again until this year.
"With all the cutbacks and everything like that, the Women's Resource Center could use any kind of money that's available," said O'Malley.
O'Malley just started fundraising a few weeks ago, with friends helping him bring sign up sheets around the area to those who are interested in pledging funds, which O'Malley said he would only collect if he finished the marathon.
And, while completing the 26-mile run is something he's done 16 times before, he said nothing is a guarantee.
"It's 26 miles. Anything can happen in 26 miles," said O'Malley. "Your back hurts, your knees hurt, you feel dizzy. There's a lot of things that go on in a marathon. You might feel great for two miles, and then the next 10 you feel like crap. It's a different type of a circumstance. It's a long race."
A long race that requires a lot of preparation, thankfully this year, O'Malley said his son, Patrick O'Malley II, who recently became interested in running, was there to join him in his training.
O'Malley started training in July, and is running on average five days a week. While preparing for the marathon is a lot of hard work, he said it will all be worth it if it means raising some extra funds for the Women's Resource Center and keeping the memory of his sister alive.
"She was a wonderful caring mother, sister, aunt, would have been grandmother, and daughter…she was all these great things," said O'Malley. "She was a nurse. She was one of those nurses that's what a nurse is supposed to be. A caregiver who gives beyond themselves and loves what they do, and she loved to take care of other people, and she was the definition of a fixer. She was always helping other people with their problems if she could."
"If something had happened to me, she'd be doing something for me (like this) years later, I know that."
Those interested in making a donation to the Women's Resource Center can still do so by mailing a check in care of Margie to P.O. Box 975, Scranton, PA.18501.
For more information, visit www.wrcnepa.org.
In addition to O'Malley, 12 other runners- Joel Adamski, Scranton; Bill Cadden, Scranton; Tony Cerminaro, Jermyn; Mark Fueshko, Mehoopany; Ed Gavin Jr., Jefferson Township; Jeffrey Ginsberg, Jermyn; Michael May, Dickson City; Patty Phillips, Hanover Township; Christopher Scalese, Moscow; Nancy Werthmuller, Scott Township; Adrian Fedorco, Wheeling, W.Va.; and Charlene Lyford, Oxford, N.Y., were scheduled to compete in the Steamtown Marathon for the 17th time on Sunday.
Lyford won the first three Steamtown Marathon women's titles.
Cerminaro has won his age group all 16 years. Cadden, a West Scranton resident, has competed in the Boston Marathon three times.
"A buddy of mine, Eddie Gavin, got me into it. I've enjoyed it," Cadden said of the Steamtown Marathon.
For results of the 17th annual Steamtown Marathon, visit www.golackawanna.com.