Scottdale's Dash Memorial held Sunday to remember Chris Kiefer
The memory of a young Scottdale man will once again be honored this weekend in a celebration of scholarship, fitness, community and family.
The seventh annual “The Dash Memorial” event will be held Sunday at Loucks Park in Scottdale. The event is held each year in memory of Chris Kiefer who died in 2006 as a result of a one-car accident, 10 days before his 18th birthday.
“He had pretty much decided that he would run for whatever college he ended up attending, so it was a natural choice to create a running event in his memory. He had participated in many 5K runs around the western PA area while he was in high school,” said Kiefer's mother Jo Kiefer of Scottdale.
Kiefer said the name “The Dash” was chosen based upon an original poem her husband, Don Kiefer, had placed in his files from a business journal several years prior to Chris' death, and the couple had the minister read it at their son's memorial service.
This year's event will include timed 5K and 10K runs as well as the un-timed one-mile fun walk.
“The course is relatively flat. It includes a lap around Loucks Park, also the soccer fields and part of the bike trail,” Don Kiefer said.
Maps of the three courses are viewable on the event's website: www.thedashmemorial.com
Ryan Clarkson, 22, of Scottdale was a teammate of Kiefer on the Southmoreland High School cross country team. He has volunteered at and run in all but one of the races.
“It's a good way for the community as a whole to remember him. I don't really do the races to win or get a medal at the end. It's something I do to honor Chris because it's something I know that he loved to do,” Clarkson said.
Jo Kiefer said participation in the event varies widely due to weather concerns with about 175 participants last year. She said they are hoping to end up with between 200 and 300 participants every year going forward.
While most participants are from the tri-state area there have been runners from Maryland, New York, Virginia, and a few other states.
“It is heart-warming to know that he managed to touch so many people while he was alive, and it makes us feel like his life has influenced many others through this event and also through the youth soccer tournament held in his memory every year in June,” Jo Kiefer said.
In addition to celebrating Chris Kiefer's life, the event also is a fundraiser for the Christopher Kiefer Memorial Scholarship, which was created in 2006 to honor his memory.
“Chris was an outstanding student and athlete (soccer, cross country, and track) at Southmoreland, and we thought it would be appropriate to try to encourage other students to continue with their education as he would have done, had he lived,” Jo Kiefer said.
Don Kiefer said on average the event raises about $2,800 a year for the scholarship. To date, that fund has contributed more $37,000 for the continued education of qualified Southmoreland Senior High School graduates.
On-site registration will be held under the red tent near the tennis courts from 1 to 2 p.m. The runs begin at 2:30 p.m. with the fun walk immediately following the departure of the runners.
Information and forms for registration are available on the website. Forms also may be picked up at the Scottdale office of the Scottdale Bank and Trust Company.
Fox's Pizza Den's Scottdale location will again sponsor the “Southmoreland Pizza Participation Challenge.” The Kiefer family has issued a challenge to the Southmoreland School District faculty and staff members. Walkers/runners from the district building which has the highest percentage of participants in this year's event will be awarded a pizza meal just for the people who participated in the event. Last year's winners were from the Southmoreland Primary Center.
The Dash Memorial will be held in conjunction with Scottdale's Picnic in the Park. There will be music, a Chinese auction, children's activities, food; followed by fireworks at the conclusion of the picnic.
Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.