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Friends Inspire Ridgewood Triathlete To Support MS

Mandy Kaufman Roth, left, and Christine Giacopelli, both of Ridgewood.
Mandy Kaufman Roth, left, and Christine Giacopelli, both of Ridgewood. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Mandy Kaufman Roth

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. – Mandy Kaufman Roth of Ridgewood will be competing with a purpose in the Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Triathlon June 18.

Inspired by her neighbors, Rich and Christine Giacopelli of Ridgewood, she’s doing it to raise money for MS.

Roth has become great friends with both husband and wife. Rich, who is 36, has the disease.

“They live around the corner from us,” Roth said. “The minute I met them, I knew I wanted them in my life. There’s something special about them. He has a smile that absolutely lights up a room.”

Roth, a social worker, has had a place in her heart for MS patients since the days she worked on the neuro rehab floor of the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City.

So, too, she’s had a long relationship with athletics. Training for the triathlon , she said, keeps her in shape now. She loves lacrosse and played it in college, but it’s difficult to find a women’s league in which to play.

“It’s nice to train with friends and have a goal,” Roth said. “Last year four of us did the triathlon and four of us raised money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.”

This year, Roth wanted to ensure that every dollar she raises goes straight to help patients in clinical trials and other ways. So she opted against raising money on a crowdfunding page since they generally retain $92 to $97 of every $100 raised.

So Roth went straight to the MS Center at Holy Name Hospital, where Rich Giacopelli is treated. The center created a web page just for her.

Truth is, Roth said, what happened to the Giacopelli family could happen to anyone.

“They should be in their glory days right now,” she said, “and he can’t run after his 3-year-old son anymore. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen to me. It didn’t happen to my husband. So the question is, What can I do to help?”

The 34th Annual Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Triathlon takes place June 18 at the Indian Trail Club in Franklin Lakes.

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