Kennedy Catholic alumni making ‘Strides for Sandy Hook’ Jan. 19 at FDR State Park


Jack Duffy and Sean Kelly met in the summer of 1989 at Kennedy Catholic’s first football practice of the season.  Twenty years later, these 1993 classmates are still running, and this Saturday, Jan. 19, at 10 a.m., they will tackle the growing tribute to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary and the community they called home.

Taking their event’s name from the original race being held this weekend in Newtown, Strides for Sandy Hook is a 5-kilometer run and walk to fundraise for the memorial playground that will be dedicated to the victims of the Dec. 14 tragedy.  For Duffy and Kelly, both parents and Sean a teacher, it is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with a community in mourning.

“We know that despite our efforts, we cannot reduce the pain that these families are going through,” Kelly said.  “But hopefully, we can remember the people that were tragically lost and aid in donations for a brand new memorial playground that will be built in Newtown.”

Jack first heard about Strides for Sandy Hook while looking a race to run in January.  The original plan was to drive across state lines, make their donations, run, and then return home.  That plan changed when the event grew too large for Newtown to officially support by coordinating with the necessary agencies and dedicating the significant manpower required.

With the help of the Taconic Road Runners, of which Kelly is a member, the two Gaels have put together a local version of Strides for Sandy Hook this Saturday at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, 2957 Crompond Road in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., starting with registration at 9 a.m.  The entry fee is $25 per racer, and the Road Runners are covering all fees so that the full amount can be donated to the Newtown Park Gift Fund.  Duffy and Kelly were initially hoping to get 30-to-40 runners, but that number has since ballooned to more than 100 registrants.

Kennedy Catholic president the Rev. Mark Vaillancourt said the Gael community couldn’t be more proud of Duffy and Kelly, who have taken up the charge of his Dec. 15 e-mail to alumni and parents about sharing the legacy of Courage and Compassion that are the school hallmarks.

“We can all fall into the shoes of the victims and can empathize with their pain,” Duffy said.  “Hopefully, our little run will make it a little easier.”



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