Steve Weir walked through the halls of his business and stopped in front of several rows of framed pictures.
Each picture told a story — from Tammy, who battled cancer, to David, who died from a sudden heart attack and left three young children behind, to Emma, who was born with Crouzon syndrome and needed numerous surgeries.
“This is why we do it, right here,” Weir said of the photos — and of the efforts of his company, American Integrity Restoration, to raise money for families dealing with health issues or financial crises by participating in the past six Apple Harvest Festival races.
Weir and his wife, Allegra, created “Running For A Reason” in 2011, not only to raise money for the families, but to raise awareness of the causes involved, such as cancer, Lyme disease or Crouzon syndrome.
“We were running the race and we thought, ‘Hey, while we are running let’s make a difference.’ So, each year, we look to a local family that is struggling and reach out to the community,” Weir said.
This year, the cause was helping Hebron resident Glen Delton, a father of three who was diagnosed earlier in the year with esophageal cancer and then inoperable stomach cancer in June. An avid runner, Delton was battling the cancer and AIR set out to raise money to help pay for the treatments.
Delton died last week, and now Team Hot AIR is setting out in Sunday’s race to help his wife, Kelly, and their children ages 15,13 and 12. Weir said the company usually gets 30 to 80 runners to participate; more than 330 are signed up for the team for Sunday’s race. The team donates $10 per runner and collects additional donations; every dime goes directly to the family, Weir said.
Kelly Delton, who grew up in Glastonbury along with Delton and Weir, said Delton would have been surprised by the outpouring and people running and walking in his honor.
“I’m just overwhelmed by the support,” she said Friday. “He was a very modest man and would have been so honored to see everyone coming out for him. He’s the type of father who went to every sporting event and every conference and did everything for his children. There were a lot of ups and downs with the chemo, and he tried experimental treatments because he wanted to try everything.”
Weir said he tries to instill the importance of service to the community in his three children. The older he gets, he said, the more he knows life is about self-sacrifice and doing good and serving the community.
“It has become a tradition and one we really enjoy,” he said. “I feel I was put on this earth to help, and I feel there is a purpose to helping others out. … This all shows you that things can change so quickly and something like this can happen to anyone.”
Mary Ellen Dombrowski, president of the Connecticut River Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the Weirs’ efforts over the years is “a way of supporting a family and their chamber.”
“Their goal has been to reach 100 runners and walkers, and this year they have already exceeded that by reaching 300,” Dombrowski said. “We are so grateful for all that they do as individuals and a business in giving back to the community.”
Donations may be made out to Kelly Delton, c/o AIR, 60 Village Place, Glastonbury, CT 06033. Those who want to run in Delton’s honor can visit www.crvchamber/apple-harvest-festival and register under Team Hot Air. Registration for the 9:30 a.m. race starts at 8:15 a.m. Sunday at 200 Welles Street.