The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Runner in Bedford Hills finds a unique proposal at the finish line

By JOHN ROCHE
SCOTT MULLIN PHOTO

Runners head up Main Street at the start of the Run for the Hills 5K on Saturday morning.

 

For most participants in Saturday’s Run for the Hills, the finish line marked the end of the 5K. But for one happy couple, the end of the race also marked a very special beginning.

As Danielle Wegielski crossed the finish line, her boyfriend of four years, Robert Pavletich, emerged from the crowd lining Babbitt Road, dropped down on one knee and proposed.

Ms. Wegielski, 27, said yes.

“It was a complete surprise, but a wonderful one,” she said, holding a dozen roses and surrounded by family and friends, who were in on the secret.

SCOTT MULLIN PHOTO

Robert Pavletich orchestrated a surprise proposal at the finish line of Saturday’s Run for the Hills, popping the question to his girlfriend of four years, Danielle Wegielski, as she finished the 5K in Bedford Hills.

 
Ms. Wegielski and her twin sister, Jenna, ran the race through Bedford Hills together. They hadn’t planned on doing so, since her sister is still recovering from a running-related injury. But when Ms. Wegielski, a preschool special education teacher, learned about the 5K from one of her students who lives in Bedford, she convinced her sibling to join her for what she thought would be “a pretty mellow run.”

Mr. Pavletich, a 29-year-old Yorktown police officer, had told her he was working the morning of April 14, which added to her surprise when she spotted him along the route.

“When he popped out, I saw him holding the flowers, and my first thought was, ‘He didn’t do anything bad, so why would he be giving me roses?” Ms. Wegielski said with a laugh. “But as soon as he got down on one knee, it hit me, and I thought, ‘Oh my God!’ He asked me to marry him, and of course I said yes.”

Mr. Pavletich said he wanted to surprise his longtime girlfriend with how he popped the question, and when she told him she was going to run the 5K, the idea clicked. “I figured this would be the last place she’d ever expect it,” he said. “I knew I wanted to ask her in a special way, rather than the traditional route of taking her out to dinner, and I’m glad this worked out as well as it did.”

Ms. Wegielski’s sister helped Mr. Pavletich, a resident of Southeast, with the planning. The twins regularly run together, but the Run For the Hills marked Jenna Wegielski’s first competitive run since breaking her foot several months ago.

“Whenever I was running a little faster than my sister, she’d ask me to slow down,” the newly engaged Ms. Wegielski, a resident of Carmel, said. “Now I realize Jenna wanted to make sure she saw the proposal at the finish line. So my time in this 5K was a little slower than usual, but it was worth it!”

The couple hasn’t set a date for their nuptials yet, but Ms. Wegielski said she’s happy to simply bask in the splendor of the surprise for a while. “My heart is still racing,” she said. “I’m so happy, and this was so exciting.”

Janet Jacobsen, the president of the Bedford Hills Neighborhood Association, which organizes the annual run, agreed that the surprise proposal added to the excitement of this year’s Run for the Hills. “We couldn’t be happier for them,” Ms. Jacobsen said. “It really made the event that much more special.”

A total of 265 runners took part in the third annual Run for the Hills, which followed a 3.1 mile-route through the 102-year-old hamlet. Prizes were awarded in various categories for adults. All youngsters who finished got a pin, and certificates for free go-kart races at Grand Prix New York in Bedford Hills were also presented in the children’s category.

Christine Cunningham, the top female finisher from Bedford Hills, said the race lived up to its name. “It was definitely hilly,” said Ms. Cunningham, who completed the 5K with a time of 24:13.

She described Run for the Hills as “more of a community event than just a race,” since it brings the hamlet and the town together. “The whole morning has been wonderful, and it’s so great to see so many people you know, whether they’re running with you, cheering the runners on or just being a part of the event in some way,” she said.

The top male finisher from Bedford Hills, Chris Singleton, also credited his time of 19:54 to a bit of home field advantage. “It helps pump you up when you’re running through your own town and being cheered on by family and friends,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. I ran by my in-laws’ home on Bedford Center Road where a bunch of people were gathered, which makes it different from other races. But that’s just part of the whole community feel of this race.”

After the race, runners and supporters gathered around the train station for refreshments, the awards presentation and some sign-ups and giveaways at several tables set up by community groups and merchants.

Two businesses slated to open soon in the hamlet, MeMe’s Treats and Massage Envy, offered residents coupons and other freebies, and Energize Bedford signed up 35 residents for free home energy assessments.

Energize Bedford also held a free raffle for a massage at Satori Spa in Katonah, with Bedford Hills resident Tom Micucci winning that prize. 

Any proceeds from the 5K benefit other programs sponsored by the neighborhood association. Among the events and initiatives sponsored by the BHNA are cleanup efforts in Bedford Hills in conjunction with the townwide cleanup in the spring, the holiday tree lighting at Depot Plaza each December, an enrichment program at Bedford Hills Elementary School, several programs in conjunction with and in support of the hamlet’s public library and participation in Branch Out!, a tree planting program launched last year by the Bedford Garden Club. Earlier this year, the neighborhood association also launched a new outreach program for Bedford Hills seniors, which included a special “Sweets for Seniors” initiative in which senior citizens received a home delivery of Valentine treats.

Garrett Armbruster, 24, of Bedford, finished first overall with a time of 17:19. The first place female overall was Somers resident Pauline Dalceredo, 40, who finished in 24:05. Avery Skolnik, 9, of Bedford Hills, finished first in the children’s category with a time of 22:42.

Ms. Jacobsen thanked the sponsors, neighborhood association members, other volunteers and everyone else who participated or pitched in to make this year’s Run for the Hills the best so far.



Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

 

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APRIL 20, 2012