Running (or walking) for a good cause.
That was on the minds of the approximately 220 people who showed up at Nanuet High School Saturday morning for the 14th annual 5K run/walk to raise money for the NHS senior class and the Robert McKiernan Scholarship Fund, which gives a $2000 annual award to an NHS student-athlete.
Robert McKiernan was a former basketball player at NHS who was killed in the mid-1990s when he was hit by a car on Route 304. That year, some students started a run/walk in his honor and to raise money for a scholarship fund, which now annual gives out a $2000 award to an NHS senior student-athlete.
The race started at Nanuet High School and went down Church Street and Highview Avenue before looping back around on Silver Birch Lane, April Lane, and Pelham Avenue, passing through Norwood and Blauvelt, and ending with a quarter-lap on the NHS track. The youngest children also participated in a “Fun Run,” a lap around the track while the others were running in the 5K. Some parents even brought their kids out on the course with them in strollers. After, the race awards were given out to the top overall male and female finishers along with the top three per gender in each age category.
In the end, the big winner was Jamie Kempton, a former track coach at NHS who actually helped organize the event in its early years. Now he is with the Rockland Road Runners and, like his fellow members, often participates in local races.
He beat out a youth less than half his age, Nanuet High School freshman . The pair finished one-two in a race in the Rockland County Schools Against Cancer 5K Run/Walk for Relay for Life in Pomona last weekend, so Kempton knew that Chesterman was likely the one to beat. According to Kempton, he passed Chesterman about a half a mile into the race and never looked back.
In fact many local track athletes and coaches took part in the event. The top female finisher was herself an NHS track athlete: Megan Young, a former New York State Class B champion in cross country. Larry Beckerle, a longtime Nanuet track coach, finished first among men aged 50-59, and one of his assistant coaches, Einar Gary Brissing, finished third overall behind Kempton and Chesterman. Brissing, an alumnus of Nanuet High School, in fact participated in the run when he was a student at NHS as well.
Many members of the McKiernan family also participated in the run, including Lisa McKiernan, Robert’s brother. She thought it was great that people still show up to the event even all these years after her brother’s death.
“It’s amazing that people still come out and show all their support,” she said. “Every year there’s always newcomers and continuous people who are there year after year after year.”
Other friends of the family took part in the event as well, both to raise money for the cause and to catch up and reminisce with old friends. One such person was Peter McGovern from North Rockland, whose brother went to school with Robert McKiernan at Saint Margaret School in Pearl River before Robert came to NHS.
“It’s getting everybody together and seeing some old friends, talk about some of the old stories.” McGovern said. “We haven’t seen each other in a while, so families keep growing, seeing what the kids are doing, catching up on everybody.”
But for some of Robert McKiernan’s relatives, like Lauren McKiernan, who is married to Robert’s brother, the race is an opportunity to learn more about a member of her family who she never got a chance to met.
“I think it’s really nice just to sort of keep his memory alive, and also for my children, who never got to meet him, and myself, we always get to remember him and learn more about him.”