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YOUNGSTOWN – The surname Beatty has become synonymous with many fundraising efforts for Niagara Hospice in Lockport.

Paul Beatty Jr. started the annual Jack Beatty Memorial Hospice Cruise and Clambake in 1999 in honor of his father’s late brother. The event celebrates the life of Jack Beatty each July at the Youngstown Yacht Club.

While he continues to volunteer with the cruise event, Paul turned over chairmanship of that event as he became more involved with another venture he started for Hospice: the Hospice Dash 5K. He started the Dash five years ago and added the Mighty Niagara Half-Marathon three years ago.

The dash and half-marathon are planned for Sept. 21 and will draw more than 2,000 runners from throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“Paul and his family are very strong advocates for Niagara Hospice,” said Brendan McIntyre, Niagara Hospice’s director of development. “The 5K and half-marathon are a natural fit for Paul and a chance for him to give back. We can’t thank him enough.”

A runner himself, Beatty said the natural beauty of the area pulls in runners for the races, while the importance of hospice’s mission easily draws sponsors.

“When we tell people this is for hospice, everyone has some connection to it or has heard a story about the great care you get at hospice,” Beatty said. “It’s a great cause and people know the money gets put to good use.”

Beatty is a fourth-grade teacher at the Tuscarora Indian School in Lewiston, where he has taught for the past 15 years. And he recently started a company, Race Management Solutions Inc., where three generations of his family handle finish line and timing services for all kinds of races.

Tell me what Niagara Hospice means to you.

Niagara Hospice helps patients – and their families – deal with end-of-life situations, and they offer that care regardless of whether people have the money to pay for it. That’s the motivator for me. The dozens of events and hundreds of small ways that people raise money for this helps provide this care to patients who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

It’s about treating people with dignity and helping their families through rough situations and continuing that care after, by offering so many outreach programs, like grief counseling. This is near and dear to me. I’m on the board of directors. Everybody’s got their cause, and this is it for me.

How did the Mighty Niagara Half-Marathon come about?

As I progress as a runner, personally, I’m always looking for the next challenge. I try to compete in one full marathon a year, as well. I ran in the Boston Marathon for the first time this year, but I didn’t finish because of the bombings. I was about three miles from the finish line. I started the Hospice Dash 5K five years ago and three years ago, added the half-marathon.

How do you explain the half-marathon’s popularity across the country and now the world?

For the half-marathon, we get runners from all over the country and Canada and abroad. We’ll even have one or two from Europe and one from Australia.

This is a great race because it’s slightly downhill, so it’s fast and it’s beautiful. The course starts at Artpark and goes through the village and along River Road, with such a scenic view of the river and Canada and then into Fort Niagara State Park and then along the lake finishing in Porter-on-the-Lake Park. Runners look for a course that’s interesting and scenic, and we have so much entertainment, too. We have a band at the start and finish lines, and live entertainment at about every mile of the race.

This has become a destination event because people can come here, stay here and enjoy the sights and all the Niagara region has to offer, from wine tours to jet boats.

Niagara Falls may be the initial catch for people from outside the area, but then they visit our website and see all of the other attractions here – the historic villages, the Niagara Wine Trail, Toronto being an hour away – there’s a lot to do within an hour of here, and it’s all very affordable.

Can people still get involved with the race?

Visit our website at www.niagarahospice.org to register or contact Maureen Rizzo (mrizzo@niagarahospice.com, 439-4417) to volunteer. We have a great group of volunteers, but we can always use more, at the starting line, finish line, setup, cleanup, handing out water or handing out medals, etc. and it’s fun.

Know a Niagara County resident who’d make an interesting question-and-answer column? Write to: Niagara Weekend Q&A, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, NY 14240, or email niagaranews@buffnews.com.