Kevin Parks has raised $50,000 this year and $200,000 overall for Tuesday’s Children. His quest is personal.
The final few miles of Sunday’s New York City Marathon are going to hurt. Kevin Parks knows that.
But the Middletown native has 50,000 good reasons to finish.
That’s how many dollars Parks raised for this race. All of it will benefit Tuesday’s Children, a New York-based recovery organization for those impacted by a traumatic loss. It was formed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which took place on a Tuesday.
Those attacks claimed the life of his father, Bob Parks, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald at One World Trade Center. Kevin was 14 at the time, just starting his freshman year at Red Bank Catholic.
“Not having a chance to grow up through high school and college with my dad sort of motivated me to try to do things for other people — things I thought he could be proud of,” Kevin said.
In 2010 he called Tuesday’s Children to volunteer. He had no prior ties to the nonprofit, but knew of its mission, which expanded over the years to help not just 9/11 families and first responders, but military families and international communities affected by violence.
“I felt like it was the right time,” said the 28-year-old Parks, who works for a hedge fund in Manhattan. “I was ready to be more open, telling my story to other people. I wanted to give back to a cause, and obviously they’ve done a lot for families and individuals.”
In six years, he has raised $200,000 for his New York marathons. On Sunday he will look to break his personal-best time of 2 hours and 59 minutes, which he set in April’s Boston Marathon. That’s a fine effort over 26.2 miles for someone whose training is limited to 30-40 miles per week.
“It’s really motivating, running through the city that was affected by the event that formed the charity I’m raising money for,” he said. “It’s my favorite day of the year. I raise this money and when I start to get tired on mile 22 I’m like, ‘This is no longer about me. Suck it up and finish so you don’t have to report back embarrassing details to people who have donated to you.’”
Terry Sears, executive director of Tuesday’s Children, called Parks “a rock star.” He is co-chair of the organization’s junior board.
“He’s a very successful guy,” Sears said. “Not only has he not missed a beat despite the fact that his family was impacted by 9/11, when he lost his dad, but he’s used that as a platform to show people how much you can overcome.”
In addition to raising money, Parks mentors a 14-year-old from Monmouth County who was born just one week after his father died in the 9/11 attacks. He sees the young man, whose name is Rodney, once a month. They exchange text messages regularly.
“Tuesday’s Children, their method is long-term healing. It’s just, ‘We’re here to support,’” Parks explained. “That’s what I try to do for Rodney. We have an unfortunate and unspoken bond, but we both know we share that. If we need to go into greater detail, we can. I support him just by being there.”
To donate to Kevin Parks’ New York City Marathon fundraiser for Tuesday’s Children, visit www.crowdrise.com/tuesdayschildrennyc2015/fundraiser/kevinparks
To learn more about Tuesday’s Children, visit www.tuesdayschildren.org.