First-place finish boosts fund-raiser

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Cape Girardeau man turned a 9.5-mile race into a personal Toys for Tots fund raiser last weekend.

Anthony Riley's first-place finish in the Point-to-Point race generated more than $1,500 for the Marine Corps League's program that helps children and their families celebrate Christmas.

Before Riley competed in the race, he found sponsors who pledged money for each mile of the race. He asked donors to double their pledges if he won.

"That was my motivation behind wanting to win the race -- I wanted to raise more money for the cause," he said.

In fact, Riley's still receiving Toys for Tots donations.

"Even though the race is over, people are still coming up saying, 'here's 20 bucks for Toys for Tots,'" he said.

Riley chose to raise money for the Marine Corps League's nationwide endeavor because he was an active-duty member of the Marine Corps for five years. He served in Iraq from March to September 2005.

"I have more respect for people in the military and all veterans than anyone else," he said. "Doing this fund raiser was just me doing my part to help out."

Riley's Toys for Tots fund-raising campaign will benefit the Marine Corps League's efforts, especially this year since the group has expanded its service area. The league's Cpl. Mason O. Yarbrough Detachment toy distribution program serves residents living in several Southeast Missouri counties, and this year will include residents in Scott and New Madrid counties.

Elmer Mansfield, Toys for Tots coordinator, said an additional 800 children will receive toys this year through the program. Last year, about 1,200 children received toys.

"It's a great thing for him to do and be able to do something like this," Mansfield said about Riley. "Toys for Tots is such a great cause, and in the end, the children are the winners."

The Point-to-Point race was sponsored by Southeast Missouri Hospital. Runners began at HealthPoint Plaza in Cape Girardeau and crossed the finish line at the Jackson facility.

Riley said the race was his first competitive running event.

He hopes to continue fund-raising efforts for Toys for Tots on a yearly basis.

Riley is employed at Southeast Missouri Hospital's surgery department and is a biology and pre-med student at Southeast Missouri State University.

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