Szwydek 5K Event Held Saturday
According to Nancy Szwydek, the event held Saturday at Mc- Connellsburg High School in honor of her son, the late Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Szwydek of Warfordsburg, drew in record dollars as well as record participation.
The 2011 race recorded around 120 attendees, while participation numbers during the April 21 event rose to about 150. “The attendance this year was the best to date,” Szwydek told the “News.”
Participants followed a mapped-out race route that began in front of the high school and followed the school’s driveway before heading right onto East Maple Street. Participants then turned right onto Cito Road, right again onto Fulton Drive and began the return trek to the school after reaching a designated turnaround on Fulton Drive.
Szwydek reported the overall finisher Saturday morning was Chambersburg resident Joe Snyder, who also took first place in the male 19-29 age division. Other top finishers included female 18 and under: Jenna Hollenshead (1st), Morghan Taylor (2nd), Melanie Deneen (3rd); male 18 and under: Patrick Keefer (1st), Macklin Hawkins (2nd); female 19-29: Missy Barton (1st), Brittney Touchard (2nd); male 19-29: Brandon Carson (2nd); female 30-39: Joni Dunkle (1st), Brandy Kennedy (2nd); male 30-39: Jeremy Hollinshead (1st), Robert Souders (2nd); female 40-49: Deanne Baker (1st), Barb Fignar (2nd); male 40-49: William Baker (1st), Eric Hollinshead (2nd); female 50 and over: Anna Touchard (1st), Paula Shives (2nd); and male 50 and over: Craig Leisher (1st) and Sen. John Eichelberger (2nd).
On a side note, Szwydek said the oldest and youngest participants recognized for their participation held a special meaning for the Szwydek’s extended family. Anna Mae Sigel, who coincidentally taught Steven at the Southern Fulton School District, was the eldest participant. Meanwhile, the youngest attendees were Steven’s 4-year-old nephews and namesakes, Parker Steven Bard and Riley Steven Bard.
Registration fees as well as 23 sponsorships from local residents and businesses resulted in the race organizers raising more than $6,500. Of the sponsorships, donations from the McConnellsburg High School Class of 2011 and Kaplan University of Hagerstown totalled $1,000 each. The overall amount is about $2,500 more than what was previously raised in years one and two, organizers said.
Szwydek was happy to report more donations are still pouring in, and she would love to have even more. Any future donations can be mailed directly to Semper Fi Memorial at 276 Mays Chapel Road, Warfordsburg, PA 17267.
The Semper Fi Memorial was established in 2006 following the death of Steven Szwydek, who was fatally wounded by an improvised explosive device while on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Memorial funds are earmarked for junior students enrolled at the local high schools to take an annual pilgrimage to Arlington National Cemetery and the Washington, D.C., area. While there students experience firsthand the cost of freedom and get an appreciation for the sacrifices of our military.
“As I explained to the students six-and-one-half years ago, Steven’s personal race for freedom ended, but the participants continue to run that race for all mankind,” said Szwydek. “This trip serves to impact youths in helping them understand that with freedom comes sacrifice. With over 33,000 grave sites at Arlington, that lesson becomes reality for the students. This trip has been so well received, and the comments from the students regarding the value of the trip are amazing.”
“The outpouring of love and support from this community has been such a blessing to us and, to date, we have estimated that almost 1,000 students have made the trip to Arlington because of the fund. Out of tragedy, comes good, and we think this is a good thing for this community and the students of Fulton County,” she concluded.
Next year’s race will be held at Southern Fulton High School. A date has not yet been selected. However, it is slated to occur around Steven’s birthday, which is April 18.