By Stacey Pfeffer
First Responders from the Armonk, Banksville, North White Plains and Thornwood Fire Departments as well as the North Castle Police Department were recently the grateful recipients of a $36,000 grant provided by Armonk-based charity Stayin’ Alive Inc. Representatives from these groups were recently presented with the generous grant at a North Castle Town Board meeting in October. Longtime Windmill Community residents and friends Michele Berliner and Christy Saltstein founded Stayin’ Alive, Inc. after their husbands Andrew Berliner and Doug Saltstein were critically injured in their neighborhood during Hurricane Sandy when they were both struck by a utility pole. Due to the tenacity and expertise of the local First Responders, Andrew and Doug survived and were able to be transported safely in an ambulance to the hospital despite fallen trees and live power lines.
“These individuals worked tirelessly to get to us–the fire department, police department and highway department. They risked their lives. I vividly remember thinking this [Hurricane Sandy] is a true test of the emergency system working. All of these departments responding exactly the way that they are trained to respond,” noted Christy Saltstein.
After spending many evenings in the hospital together while their husbands recovered, Berliner and Saltstein wanted to thank the First Responders and decided that raising funds for them was crucial especially for equipment that isn’t normally covered by their budgets. Just one year post-Sandy, the two women who are both avid runners put a team together of local North Castle runners for the Westchester Running Festival. That race helped raise $20,000 which was directly donated to the Armonk Fire Department for the purchase of new EMS jumpsuits. Spurred by that success and seeing a greater need for funds, the inaugural Stayin’ Alive 5K Fun Run took place in May 2014 in the Windmill Community and they incorporated their charity later that summer. This past spring, the 2nd Annual Stayin’ Alive 5K Fun Run raised more than $25,000 from 350 participants.
The North Castle Police Department, one of the grant recipients, will use the funds to purchase a new lightweight “Jaws of Life” hydraulic rescue tool. The entire North Castle Police Department will be trained on how to respond to motor vehicle accidents with this tool and it will “revitalize the response of the entire department,” commented Michele Berliner. Other equipment that will be purchased by grant recipients includes thermal imaging cameras and CPR chest compression systems.
“We couldn’t do any of this without the support of the community and especially the North Castle Town Board –they have backed us 100 percent. They have helped us in planning the race and promoting it and we are so thankful for them,’ said Berliner.
The 3rd Annual Stayin’ Alive 5K Fun Run will take place May 14, 2016 in the Windmill Community. Runners, volunteers and sponsoring companies can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Stacey Pfeffer lives with her husband and three young children in Chappaqua. Her oldest child just started doing fun runs and hopes to participate in the 3rd Annual Stayin’ Alive 5K Fun Run in May 2016.