By Mike Gabriele
The 4th Annual Runners For Others: An Ignatian 5K was all set for 9:00 am on April 9, 2016. When April 9 arrived, however, it felt more like February 9. To make matters worse, the unseasonably chilly temperatures were not the biggest threat at the crack of dawn. There was no crack of dawn. Instead of the sun peeking up from the horizon, a cold rain blanketed Baltimore with forecasts of possible snow showers. Did we mention it was April 9?
No one wants to run a 5K in the cold. No one wants to run a 5K in the rain. Even less people want to run a 5K in a cold rain. So who in their right minds would show up to run in weather like that?
Runners For Others, that’s who. An Ignatian 5K is more than a race or a fun-walk through a beautiful park on a Saturday morning. It is students, teachers, parishioners, volunteers, friends and families all coming out to support the social ministry programs at Baltimore’s nine Jesuit schools, parishes and institutions. Mother Nature can’t keep them inside. So they came. Not just a few of them. Not even a few dozen of them. Nearly 150 participants showed up to brave the elements and show their support for all things Jesuit. Cars parked along Patterson Park as if it were a crowded summer day. Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and Loyola University Maryland bussed in students from their campuses, and some last minute runners even came to register on the spot!
Only smiling faces depsite the chilly temps and damp air.
As everyone fastened their race numbers to their parkas and sweatshirts, God was gracious. With just minutes to start time, the rain dwindled to a drizzle, then suddenly stopped by the time Fr. Jim Casciotti, SJ, pastor at St. Ignatius Church led the runners in a quick prayer and Fr. Joe Lacey, SJ, pastor at St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Church officially started the race. The clouds parted (somewhat), and the Runners For Others took off.
Congratulations to 17 year-old Kevin Wegner, a Loyola Blakefield cross country runner, who took home first place with a winning time of 16 min. 58 sec. He even ran the course without a shirt on! (He came in first, so we won’t ask questions.) All of our runners posted great times. Click here for a complete list.
Where's his Runners For Others shirt? Loyola Blakefield student, Kevin Wegner, decided to run shirtless... and won!
This year also featured the inaugural Beyond the Finish Line award, presented to an individual who exemplifies what it means to be a brother or sister for others. The award went to Fr. William Watters, SJ, former pastor of St. Ignatius Church in Baltimore and the visionary behind St. Ignatius Loyola Academy and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, both of which serve underprivileged children. Presenting the award to Fr. Watters was Wayne Gioioso, president and founder of Mid-Atlantic Properties and a sponsor of the race since year one. He was also a student of Fr. Watters back in… well, some years ago. In presenting the award, Mr. Gioioso urged everyone to strive for the mindset that he admires most in Fr. Watters, which is to continuously work against -- agere contra – selfishness, every day, in every interaction. "Fr. Watters is the most selfless and genuine person I have ever met,” said Mr. Gioioso. “I speak for all who know him when I say – he profoundly changed my life."
Fr. William Watters, SJ, accepts the inaugural Beyond the Finish Line award with the Loyola Don and Cristo Rey Hornet looking on.
Enough cannot be said of the race committee as well, who as always, worked tirelessly to put this event together; getting sponsors, corralling volunteers, managing logistics and promoting the event. Committee chairmen and co-founders, Chip Cooke and Bill MacSherry, outdid themselves as usual. Their leadership has helped Runners For Others: An Ignatian 5k raise $52,000 for our local Jesuit social ministry programs – the grassroots of serving others.
As always, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School came to run and show support for their school and each other.
We look forward to another great race and fun-walk next year… in the sunshine! You can follow details on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Ignatian5K