Stephanie Littell has been running marathons since 2012 and this year, she’ll be running the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6 on behalf of an organization that helps families of police officers and firefighters killed in action.
Littell, who moved to New York from Ohio in 2014, has been living in Long Island City since August. She moved to the neighborhood to be closer to friends and to make her work commute shorter.
“I love [Long Island City],” she said. “I love the community feel, the restaurants, the food and everything.”
Littell played field hockey and lacrosse at Ohio State University where she majored in criminal justice. She was looking for ways to stay active after graduation and started running.
To train, she has run from Ditmars Boulevard to Citi Field and the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan. Her training started in July and she runs four days a week. Littell said she hopes to finish the race in under 4 hours. According to the marathon’s website, the average finish time last year was 4 hours, 28 minutes and 27 seconds.
Littell currently works in law enforcement as an analyst on long-term investigations. Though she could not divulge much information about the specifics of her job, Littell works with many police officers and firefighters, which led to her decision to join the marathon team running to raise money for Answer the Call.
Answer the Call is a nonprofit that provides financial assistance and support to families of cops, firefighters, Port Authority police and EMS personnel who have been killed in the line of duty.
“I was on the marathon website looking through all the charities and I saw that one and it just immediately stuck out to me,” Littell said. “I work with a lot of NYPD and FDNY on a daily basis and it hit close to home thinking about what would happen if one of them lost one of their lives.”
She also has a cousin in Cincinnati who works as a firefighter, which helped solidify her decision to raise money for the organization. Littell and her 12 teammates have raised approximately $3,000 each for the organization. Founded in 1985 by baseball player Daniel J. “Rusty” Staub, the player organized annual picnics at Shea Stadium to raise money for families.
After 9/11, the families it served doubled and the nonprofit has expanded their mission to include Port Authority officers and EMS personnel. In 2015, the organization assisted 600 families and distributed $2.5 million to those in need.
Littell was inspired to pursue a career in law enforcement after the 9/11 attacks. Though none of her family works in law enforcement, she began taking criminal justice classes at Ohio State University and the major stuck. She is now working on completing her masters degree in Homeland Security from Penn State.
Littell said she hopes to eventually work in counter terrorism analysis.
“I am running to honor those who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to provide for any future, dedicated individuals who may make the ultimate sacrifice,” she said.
For more information about Answer the Call and to learn about the families they help, visit the organization’s website.