Rossi running for a good cause

Runners take off during the start of the Bob Veillette 5K Road Race in downtown Waterbury last September.  The race was held to honor Bob Veillette, who was left paralyzed following a stroke in 2006.  Veillette was an avid runner, and journalist for the Republican-American.  - RA ARCHIVE

Runners take off during the start of the Bob Veillette 5K Road Race in downtown Waterbury last September. The race was held to honor Bob Veillette, who was left paralyzed following a stroke in 2006. Veillette was an avid runner, and journalist for the Republican-American. - RA ARCHIVE

When Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi laces her running shoes Sept. 11, she will be checking off an item on her bucket list. She will also be raising money for Naugatuck resident Bob Veillette, former managing editor of the Waterbury Republican-American.

Veillette was almost completely paralyzed after he suffered a massive stroke in 2006, leaving him with locked-in syndrome.

Rossi will be running in the annual Bob Veillette 5K Road Race and Walk in downtown Waterbury, which raises money to support Veillette’s medical expenses. Veillette’s wife, Bonnie, is his full-time caregiver at their home in Naugatuck. The family pays thousands of dollars each month in expenses above what is covered by Medicaid, according to Veillette’s website.

“I’m excited,” Rossi said. “Hopefully, I won’t embarrass myself. … It’s for such a phenomenal cause,” Rossi said.

Rossi said she plans to make a donation in the name of the Naugatuck Fire and Police Departments in honor of the first responders in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

She’s also hoping to stir up a friendly rivalry between the fire and police departments to see who can raise the most money.

“It’s a good idea,” Fire Chief Ken Hanks said.

Rossi said she has already sent out around 200 e-mails to friends and family to reach her goal of raising $1,000.

“For me personally, it was really meaningful for this to be my first 5K,” said Rossi, who is friends with Bob Veillette.

She has been training for the race for about four weeks.

“As you know by now, when Tamath decides to do something she puts in a minimum of 110 percent,” wrote Wayne Malicki, chairman of the Naugatuck Fire Commission.

In a letter to fellow commissioners, Malicki asked the fire department to donate to the cause.

“I am asking you to reach into your hearts as well as your wallets for this wonderful event,” Malicki wrote.

The organizers of the race are also seeking volunteers. High school students can earn up to five hours of community service credit by volunteering for the race.

The event needs volunteers to help with set up, staff intersections and water tables along the race route and walk route, and to help with activities in the park, including the Kids Activity Tent, according to a press release.

The race starts at Library Park at the corner of Meadow and Grand streets in downtown Waterbury. Registration opens at 12 p.m. The 5K and walk begin at 1:30 p.m. and should wrap up by 2:30 p.m. Event coordinators will hold a special ceremony during the race to honor those who lost their lives in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Interested individuals may contact Volunteer Coordinator and Veillette’s daughter, Stephanie DeLuca at bobroadrace@yahoo.com.

High school volunteers must bring their community service paperwork with them to the event to receive credit.

For more information about the race, visit www.Bob5K.com. For more information about Veillette, visit www.BobVeillette.com.