Utica, N.Y. -- Organizers for the Daniel Barden Mudfest, which took place a few weeks ago, presented a $2,000 check to the Midtown Utica Community Center Thursday evening. That money will be used to sponsor Utica-area refugees in the Boilermaker's Charity Bib program.
The founder of the Mudfest, Daniel Williams, his niece was inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School on the day of the tragic shooting in 2012. She escaped physically unharmed, but lost her friend and neighbor, Daniel Barden. The Mudfest was established following the shooting. 26 were killed including Barden, who was 7 years old.
Williams talked about how the partnership with the Midtown Utica Community Center was formed.
"I love the Boilermaker and I just felt like it was a great fit," said Williams. "So I said let me give you a couple thousand dollars, we'll help some refugees run the race."
Hon Moon, was a refugee in Thailand who came to Utica when he was 10 years old. He was a student in the Utica City School District and graduated in the top ten percent in his class with an advanced regents diploma. Moon is currently pursuing a nursing degree at Utica College.
"We're supposed to raise $500 each," said Moon. "I told them that was going to be challenging. I was doubting whether or not I would achieve my goal. Their check really surprised us, it was out of nowhere. And we just started organizing events just to raise money for it and it's a really nice surprise."
Each runner is supposed to raise $500 in order to receive a Boilermaker Charity Bib, but with the $2,000 donation, four runners including Moon, will be participating in this year's run.