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For the past five years, North Branford Town Planner Carey Duques has covered a lot of ground among North Branford’s 26 square miles. But on Sunday, Nov. 3, she’ll cover 26.2 miles, running the famed New York City Marathon. Inspired by a friend’s seven-year-old son who lives with a rare disease, Carey is running with a team to raise funds for the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research. (Photo by Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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As North Branford’s Town Planner, Carey Duques covers a lot of ground among North Branford’s 26 square miles. But on Sunday, Nov. 3, she’ll cover 26.2 miles—on foot—running the famed New York City Marathon. Carey has chosen the largest marathon in the world, raced by more than 50,000 runners, as her very first full marathon attempt.
Carey says there’s a very good reason why she’s planning to take on the challenge of the New York City marathon, and his name is Brandon Chorney.
“I’m running with the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research Team [FPWR] in support of Brandon, a sweet and loving seven-year-old and the son of my good friends,” says Carey.
Brandon was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that affects his hormones, growth, appetite, cognitive function, and behavior. With no current cure, support generated by the foundation is one of the best hopes for funding research and developing treatments through clinical trials.
“Because it’s not a very common syndrome, there’s not a lot of funding out there,” says Carey. “I’ve always wanted to find some way to help. We’ve done walks and gone to their fundraisers. [Brandon’s] family is so inspiring, in all that they do.”
His parents have been close friends of Carey and her husband Chad since their college days. When another friend from college told Carey she could enter the New York City marathon as part of the FPWR team, she didn’t hesitate to sign on.
“I said, ‘Let’s give it a try!’ So I’ve been training since last spring, and now it’s coming up on Nov. 3,” she says. “I’ve never done a marathon—I’ve done a few ‘halves.’ But I have been a runner. I played sports in high school, and started running after college for exercise.”
For many months now, she’s been running outside, in all weather, to train. That includes getting out there at 5 a.m. on weekday mornings and running longer distances on the weekends.
As for her fundraising effort, Carey’s committed to raising $3,500 by marathon day. She says she’s overwhelmed by the generous spirit exhibited by everyone who learns of her quest to help Brandon (visit act.fpwr.org/goto/brandon to donate and learn more).
That generosity of spirit is also being shown by her community of co-workers at Town Hall. Carey especially thanks Executive Secretary Gina Cox of the Town Manager’s office for being her number-one fan. Gina organized a month-long, Friday Dress-Down Donation Day for the month of October at Town Hall. Carey said seeing everyone, including Town Manager Mike Paulhus, come to work wearing jeans on Fridays has been very moving.
“It just shows how we support one another in different initiatives, at work and outside of work. It’s just a really nice work community,” says Carey.
Carey also thanks her husband and their two young daughters, ages 6 and 8, for their support. Her family will be there to cheer her on in New York for the marathon.
“I’m excited and I think about the marathon all the time and fundraising all the time, so I’m kind of nervous for when it’s over,” Carey says, laughing. “I think I’ll still run, but it will be nice not to have to get up at five in the morning to run! And my family will be excited to have me around a little more.”
Working for the Town
Carey arrived at North Branford Town Hall five years ago, coming from similar work for the cities of Salem, Massachusetts and Medford, Massachusetts. She found the job in North Branford after she and her husband moved to Connecticut to be closer to family.
Carey started off as both town planner and zoning enforcement officer (ZEO) for North Branford, until the Town Council was able to approve funding a part-time ZEO a few years back. That said, in a town the size of North Branford, “we don’t have a very deep bench” when it comes to administrators, Carey notes, which is why she undertakes several roles in her work.
In her role as town planner and zoning administrator, Carey’s responsible for North Branford’s planning and zoning and inlands wetlands department oversight, working with staff and commissions, boards, and agencies in those areas as well as helping support initiatives of the part-time economic development coordinator and volunteer Economic Development Commission (EDC).
On any given day, she could be reviewing zoning permits and working with developers or property owners on larger projects and subdivisions (as well as reviewing subdivisions). She collaborates with other department heads at Town Hall as well as with agencies on behalf of the town, including the Regional Water Authority. Her work and expertise has her at many meetings, reviewing questions of town governing bodies such as the Planning and Zoning Commission and Inlands Wetlands Agency, to help make informed decisions.
As part of her inlands wetlands role, Carey will represent the town among several that are involved in a new Natural Resources Conservation Service grant to help address pollution impacts on the Farm River and ways to pay attention to the resource and avoid detrimental impacts on the watershed.
In the five years Carey has been working with the town, she’s seen exciting changes and forward momentum in many areas. That ranges from the current Sunflower Project overseen by the economic development coordinator and EDC to the growth of agritourism—including Rosabianca Vineyards, now Rose Vineyards & Winery, and soon Stewards of the Land Farm Brewery—with still more to come with exciting, town-approved plans for the commercial renovation of Mill Pond Tavern. Many of these new enterprises are actually next steps for families that have established their business/farming enterprises in North Branford for decades, and longer, Carey notes.
The DeFrancesco family, which is branching out with Stewards of the Land, has been farming here for more than 100 year, while the Rose family farm was established more than three centuries ago.
“I think one thing that is just so fascinating about this town is that people, once they’re here and they’re established, they really invest [and] they’re very interested in doing what’s right, and in the best interests of the town,” Carey says. “The sense of community is very strong here.”
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