A record-breaking number of enthusiastic participants, upwards of 1,600, turned out September 15 for the 15th Annual Race With Grace, a 5K benefit run initiated by Mike Grace in memory of his late wife Mary who passed away in January, 2005, after losing a valiant two-year fight against cancer.
The almost electric atmosphere generated by those gathered at Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital was evidence of how the people of this community rally around causes to help and support each other, one of the things for which Mike Grace thanked everyone who was there for him and his children during their struggle.
In addition to creating a lasting memorial to his wife, Grace's other goals in holding this event were to motivate others to have mammograms and do self-examinations, to raise funds to help families coping with the disease, and to encourage everyone to appreciate and celebrate life every day. Since its inception, the Mary Grace Foundation has helped more than 700 families.
On the beautiful September morning, after an invocation, the singing of the national anthem by Elizabeth Gilbert, and the playing of "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes, the runners lined up to do the 5K run/walk or the one-mile fun run. Families, some with infants in strollers and/or excited dogs running alongside, filled the streets along the route as neighbors cheered them on.
Some residents handed out cups of water, while others made humorous signs that gave incentive to the runners: "Run like the PTA president is chasing you looking for volunteers." What fun!
The teams, several repeaters, many with whimsical names such as Concrete Sneakers, Chemosabes, Grizzlies for Grace, Worst Pace Scenario, Soul Runners, DSGB Walkie Talkies, A Blessed Bunch, #the20Percent, School of Walk, Waite Super Stars, and Bruening Brigade, had incredible support from their families and friends.
Before the presentation of winners, Grace extended thanks to all the sponsors for their generous donations, and to everyone who worked to make the race possible, including Medina Hospital President Dr. Richard Shewbridge. He said the spirit of Mary continues through the Foundation.
Allison Grace, who was 12 when her mother died, accompanied by her brothers, Tim and Will, who were only 9 and 4 years old respectively at the time, paid a special, very moving tribute to their dad for his strength and guidance over the years.
The team awards were presented first. The Medina County Roadrunners were recognized as the fastest team, Team Philly was the most spirited, and once again, the Shining Stars Team was recognized as the biggest, with 211 members.
The overall top three female runners were Renee Harden (19:04), Virginia Hudson (20:18), and Ally Ciulla (20:55), and the top three male runners were Sam Kovalchik (16:50), Brennan Carlin (17:54), and Keegan Gallagher (18:38). Other awards were determined by age groups. First place winners received rose bushes donated by Grace Brothers Nursery; second and third place winners received medallions.
Following are the female, then male first, second, and third place winners in each category, announced by D.J. Dave Steirer:
Under 10: Lacey Heideloff, Sammie Nichols, and Paige Armstrong; Sam Bugner, Ben Naso, and Willy Nichols.
11-14: Elaina Wilson, Grace Heed, and Julia Norby; Fred Adams, Ayden Boucher, and Theron Petitto.
15-19: Isabella Baker, Chloe Tesny, and Elyana Metter; Timmy Tusick, Mason Bair, and Bennett Kolda.
20-24: Amber Wehrmeyer, Kara Daggett, and Liz Charek; Mark Dickerhoof, Roi Trawon, and Michael Christ Manley.
25-29: Kayla Prokop, Mary Stankiewicz, and Aubrey Lewis; Kyle Dawley, Harold Schneider, and Brent Brown.
30-34: Lauren Bradley, Alysia Rogers, and Amanda Somerville; Josh Tuchaski, Mario Sako, and Scott Stewart.
35-39: Alison (no last name), Christa Rudowicz, and Rachel Schaefer; Adam Ciroli, Eric Vunderlink, and Sam Kolousek.
40-44: Jennifer Ridgway, Jeannine Nicholson, and Lisa Dresler; Nathan Simpson, Joe Waldron, and Aaron Boucher.
45-49: Amy Wilson, Adrienne Ruppel, and Julie Burdoff; Joe Petitto, Jeffrey Leblanc, and Fred Dwyer.
50-54: Kelly Parker, Linda Spinelli, and Carolyn Constance; Steve Faust, Steve Marshall, and Ladd Clifford.
55-59: Roberta Gangl, Bonnie Barna, and Heather Bechtel; Bob Pokorny, Jim Kazimir, and Skip Sipos.
60-64: Jane Unsdorfer, Christine Fienga, and Rose Dickerhoof; Erin Rankin, John Sachleben, and Richard Dargan.
65-over: Angela Bosela, Gloria Hering, and Chris Polomsky; John Douds, Jon Strayer, and Bob Chittenden.
Major sponsors were: Medina Hospital Medical Staff, Nu-Di Corporation, Medina Veterinary Clinic LLC, Pearle Vision, Elegant Essentials, MelCap Partners LLC, DS Benefits Group, Medina Half Marathon and 5K, EcoSox, Lamar, Automation Tool and Die, Kona Ice, Courthouse Pizzeria, Meadows Turkey Bowl, and Buffalo Wild Wings. In addition, there were 46 other sponsors.