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Ten Ugly Men Festival Celebrates 25 Inspiring Years

Monday, July 21, 2014

What began as a small gathering among friends and family in 1989 quickly grew into what is now known as the Ten Ugly Men Festival, a celebration with thousands of people that gives back to the community and continues to be one of Rochester’s most anticipated events of the summer, 25 years later. The festival will kick off its celebration at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 26, at Genesee Valley Park. UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital has been an honored beneficiary of the event since it began, with more than $240,000 raised in support of the hospital’s Bright Eyes Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Fund.

Event guests have the opportunity to participate in a number of activities, including the fan-favorite volleyball and kickball tournaments and the first-ever “Color Me Ugly” 5K Color Run. The 5K will kick off at 11 a.m. and runners will be blasted with color at “Ugly Zones” throughout the race. In addition to the sports activities, there will also be both DJ-spun tunes and live music from Cherry Bomb, John Akers All-Star Cover Band, and more.

“We wanted to bring a different element to the event this year with the Color Me Ugly Run, while still having the traditional festival with our tournaments and live music,” said Michael Hartman, founding member of the Ten Ugly Men group. “We decided to move away from our typical 5K and toward the popular Color Run. Each runner will receive a t-shirt and headband, as well as entry into the festival.”

In celebration of the event’s anniversary, admission is a discounted price of $25 advance sale and $40 at the door. Tickets for kids 13 to 20 years old are $10 and are only available the day of the event. Guests 12 years and under are free. Tickets can be purchased on Ticketmaster or at an area Wegmans.

Although the event is about having a good time, the foundation of the Ten Ugly Men Festival is focused on doing well for the community and helping others. The Ten Ugly Men was organized by a group of Nazareth College alumni who enjoyed each other’s company and decided to throw a party for friends and family. Due to the large turnout, they moved the gathering to a park the next year and charged a few dollars for refreshments and donated the proceeds to a local charity. The event grew and grew and, although the Ten Ugly Men Festival started out with 10 men, it now includes three women.

“The Ten Ugly Men are wonderful friends who continue to positively impact sick and injured kids through their generous donations,” said Stephanie Sheets, assistant director of community affairs at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “We are excited to have been a part of the festival since its beginning and are grateful that it continues to do so much for our community.”

The festival has benefited a number of Rochester-area charities, with Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Bright Eyes Fund being one of the first co-beneficiaries. The Bright Eyes Fund was chosen in memory of Kim Fitzsimmons, first wife of “Ugly” John Fitzsimmons, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May 2000 and, after a tough fight, lost her battle in February 2003, at the age of 35. It was Kim’s wish to broaden the scope of brain tumor research and treatment options in Rochester and the funds raised at the festival help fulfill that wish, improving the lives of children with brain tumors and their families throughout their treatment and beyond.

Among other areas, the Fund has been used to help families purchase medicine and/or equipment not covered by insurance companies as well as support continuing medical education for the Comprehensive Brain Tumor Clinic staff, expanding overall knowledge of the disease and helping in the discovery of new treatments and approaches to supportive care.

“We wouldn’t be celebrating this great milestone without support from our community and we look forward to many more years of being able to benefit kids at Golisano Children’s Hospital and other local charities,” said Hartman.

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