The Need for Sean's
Our Growth and
to Produce the Sean Patrick French
Memorial Run / Walk
We Are About
Producing a well-organized, highly publicized pre prom-season event
- 5K Run/Walk,
- 1 Mile youth race known as Meghan'sMile
- 50 and 20 Mile Bike Rides
- Super Saturday Run for Special Needs Kids
- Tribute to Victims and Survivors,
- World Championship Battle of the Belts seatbelt
contest, and a
- Prevention Education Expo
Our Goals Are
- Increasing awareness about the problems of
underage drinking and impaired driving by attracting participants,
spectators and media attention from across the capital region
to a well-organized community event.
- Raising funds to give to youth and student
organizations to implement year-round programs that combat underage
drinking, impaired driving and teens’ lax use of seatbelts.
- Raising funds to present scholarships to
deserving college-bound seniors from throughout the region.
- Encouraging healthy lifestyles and safe choices
and reduces the number of teens who drink, drive while impaired,
ride with a drunk driver, or fail to use seatbelts.
Our all-volunteer Committee and Board of Directors
created Sean’s Run in response to the tragic death of Sean
Patrick French, the 17-year old Chatham High School junior, honor
roll student, community volunteer and record-setting athlete who
lost his life on January 1, 2002 as a passenger in a drunk-driving
car crash. Another passenger, 17-year old Ian Moore, sustained paralyzing
injuries and is now a paraplegic. The intoxicated driver, also 17-years
old, was a schoolmate who had been arrested previously for drunk
driving, just 18 days before the fatal crash.
This tragedy prompted the enactment of Sean’s Law
on January 1, 2003 that requires the suspension of a license upon
the first arrest of a 16 or 17 year old on drunk driving charges.
The Bill to implement Sean’s Law, which passed in both the
NYS Senate and Assembly with unanimous votes, was drafted and first
introduced in the Senate by our own Senator Stephen Saland
and subsequently introduced in the Assembly by Buffalo-area Assemblyman
Paul Tokasz. Governor George E. Pataki signed the
Bill into law during a public ceremony at Chatham High School on
September 30, 2002.
Sean’s story is featured in the dramatic educational video
entitled “Confronting Drunk Driving”
distributed to schools nationwide by Human Relations Media, (800)
431-2050. His story also been the subject of an article in Sports
Illustrated magazine, numerous newspaper reports and television
reports, and has been highlighted by NYS MADD.
for Sean’s Run
Sean’s death prompted a group of adults and youth from the
Chatham area to come together and ask the question: “What
else can we do, as a community, to help kids make better choices,
to get them to better understand why they should never ride with
an impaired driver, why they should not consume alcoholic beverages
until they are 21, why they should always use their seatbelts?”
A Committee member added, “If it can happen to a young
person like Sean, who was a responsible, smart and well adjusted
young man, then maybe it could happen to any kid in the community.”
Another added, “The school teaches about this, but
apparently, more needs to be done to reinforce the lessons taught
NYS Department of Motor Vehicles research continues to show that
young drivers are more often involved in alcohol-related crashes
than any other comparable age group. The peak of fatal crashes occurs
at age 21. One only has to pick up the newspapers to see story after
story of alcohol-related fatal and personal injury crashes involving
drivers who are under the age of 21 years. While drivers who are
under the age of 21 comprise only 7% of the licensed drivers in
the region, these young drivers were responsible for 21 % of all
the alcohol-related fatal and personal injury crashes - an over
representation factor of 300%.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for
teens, and nearly 2/3 of those who perish were not using seatbelts.
Over half of all teenage car crashes involve alcohol.
Our Growth and
Year 1 —
The first Sean’s Run 5K, on the last Sunday of April, 2002,
was produced just 4 months after Sean French’s death. The
event attracted over 1,000 participants from a 14-county region
and raised $40,000 that was contributed in equal
portions to the Sean Patrick French Scholarship Fund and to the
family of Ian Moore to help retrofit his home to accommodate his
wheelchair and other special needs. The Scholarship Fund now awards
6 to 10 scholarships annually to seniors from throughout
the capital region.
This first event served as the catalyst for the commencement of
the first-ever Chatham Middle School SADD chapter and the publicity
that was afforded the event was also instrumental in keeping the
issues related to underage drinking and driving in front of the
NYS Legislature at the time Sean’s Law and
other measures were being debated. Sean’s Law was passed just
a week before the first Sean’s Run, and subsequently the Legislature
passed bills lowering of the DWI threshold to .08 BAC, and implementing
the Graduated Junior License and the Keg Tagging laws. Frequently
the case of Sean Patrick French was referenced in newspaper and
TV coverage as the Legislature debated these bills.
Year 2 —
2003, 418 entrants.
In the second year, our efforts expanded, we added an Prevention
Education Expo and we planned to begin to help other communities
commence and support anti-underage drinking and impaired programs.
Through this growth of activity, Sean’s Run has become much
more than a once-yearly community 5K run / community walk. By contributing
the proceeds of the event to deserving youth groups, SADD, MADD
and RID chapters, the Committee and our sponsors are using Sean’s
Run as the catalyst to commence and support anti-underage drinking
and impaired driving programs in other counties.
Year 3 — 2004, 612 entrants.
A Request for Proposals (RFP) process was developed
to distribute the funds raised — $5,500 — in year two.
Organizations were invited to propose exciting prevention and education
activities that encourage safe choices and healthy lifestyles. Grants
were awarded to eight (8) organizations from throughout
the capital region were selected and presented cash awards, ranging
from $500 to $1,500 to implement prevention programs that incorporate
the effective strategies recommended by the National Highway Safety
The Committee created a website (www.SeansRun.com)
prior to the third annual Sean’s Run which includes information
about the scholarships, grants, 5K, Meghan'sMile and the Prevention
Education Expo. In addition, our Constitution and By-Laws, annual
budget and list of contributors are posted now at our website. Our
sponsors, photos, press releases, news articles are also included.
In year three we also started to memorialize other young people
who have lost their lives in car crashes.
Year 4 — 2005, 648 entrants.
April 24, 2005, grants awarded through the RFP
process increased to $10,000 (the amount we raised
in year #3) and 12 organizations benefited from proceeds earned
at Sean’s Run. In addition, our work became a catalyst for
the establishment of additional SADD chapters and has supported
the efforts of the Columbia County District Attorney in coordinating
the work of SADD chapters throughout the county.
Furthermore, a 12-county coalition comprised of law enforcement,
District Attorneys, county and municipal governments, prevention
specialists, schools and youth organizations used the 2005 Sean’s
Run as the occassion to introduce the regional “Parents
Who Host, Lose the Most” (PWHLTM) campaign. The Sean’s
Run Committee encouraged the adoption of this nationally recognized
strategy throughout the region as part of the 2006 Sean’s
Run RFP process. Organizations that proposed strategies to advance
the PWHLTM campaign in their communities were given extra consideration
for cash awards from Sean’s Run.
Year 5 — The
5th Annual Sean’s Run, Sunday, April 23, 2006, despite a steady
downpour, was our best to date —
the most entrants, the most sponsors and contributors and we added
two new elements:
- A special Tribute to Victims and Survivors
of impaired driving crashes, and
- The World Championship Battle of the Belts
seat belt contest for high school students.
We awarded 9 grants totaling $6,900
and the Sean Patrick French Memorial Scholarship Fund awarded scholarships
to eight (8) more deserving college-bound seniors.
Year 6 — Held on Sunday, April 29, 2007, we built on
the success of last year and further grew the event. 818 people
registered in the 5K and SeansMile. We introduced Chip Timing
to the event and for the first time we had results and awards posted
within minutes of the finish of the 5K. We also started what will
become an annual feature, Saturday Packet Pick Up. Nearly 350 people
took advantage of this convenience for picking up their goodies
a day early to avoid standing in line on event day. 10 more groups
were presented grants and 10 more seniors were presented scholarships.
Since Sean’s Run began in 2002, the proceeds have funded 38
grants, totaling $28000, and the Scholarship Fund has awarded 38
scholarships totaling $28,000.
Year 7— April
27, 2008. 1,085 entries – the most ever! We dedicated the
event to Meghan Kraham, who as a 16 year-old helped organize the
first Sean’s Run and served on our Organizing Committee until
her untimely death at age 22 on August 18, 2008. She succumbed after
a 6 month battle with a rare form of cancer. We miss Meghan’s
smile. As of this event we’ve given away a total of $106,000
in scholarships, contributions and grants in seven years! The day
started gloomy and overcast, the sun came out for the 5K –
as was predicted during the opening ceremony by General Chairman
Jeff French. First Niagara Bank Foundation was our Presenting Sponsor
with a $10,000 contribution! We continued Saturday Packet Pick Up
and moved the time for conducting the World Championship Battle
of the Belts to 12:00 noon, before Meghan'sMile so more people had
an opportunity to watch this fast-moving seatbelt buckling competition.
Our website was completely rebuilt and we added the Register Star
and Chatham Courier, Park Row Gallery and Hawthorne Valley Farm
Year 8 — April
26, 2009. 1,371 entries. 85 degrees, mostly sunny skies. We grew
again – a 67% increase in entries in 2 years! 567 people registered
on Saturday and Sunday. Because of the growing crowd, participants
are finding parking places further and further from the high school.
This year our staging area in the parking lot was fully decorated
with bright banners and lots of colorful balloons. We awarded grants
to 16 organizations, and 10 more scholarships to deserving seniors.
Now we have given away $120,050 since the inception of this event.
First Niagara Bank continued as our Presenting Sponsor. We renamed
Sean’s Mile to Meghan’s Mile to honor and remember Meghan
Kraham. 15 minutes before the start of Meghan’s Mile our timing
company experienced a drop in power, shutting down their computers.
With power quickly restored and computers re-booted, the event started
17 minutes after the advertised time of 12:30 PM. However, we were
quick to get back on schedule and by 2:10 PM all awards had been
presented for both races and the record crowd was dispensing to
their cars having enjoyed another outstanding Sean’s Run.
Year 9 — April 24 & 25, 2010. 1,462 total entries, and another record. Saturday: 70 degrees and crystal clear skies. Sunday: 56 degrees, overcast and showers. Now Sean’s Run has become a 2-day event. We added our first ever Sea Jem’s Super Saturday Run for Special Needs Kids. 20 young people with a variety of disabilities participated and Sean’s Run became the first running event in the entire region to include a component for the special needs population. 373 people registered for the 5K and Meghan’s Mile on Saturday and Sunday. The cool and wet conditions were excellent for the fleet afoot and no deterrent to the special spirit of Sean’s Run. Grants were presented to 19 organizations in memory of Nancy Zygmon, our first Business Manager who succumbed to cancer last September.
Also, 10 more seniors were awarded scholarships. Now we have given away $135,550 since the inception of this event. First Niagara Bank continued as our Presenting Sponsor. Chocolate Milk was added to the refreshments menu. Race timing was nearly flawless and only 7 chips failed to find their way back to the timing company by the end of the day. The World Championship Battle of the Belts attracted 15 teams in the High School Division and 9 in the Middle School Division. The Chatham Police Department remained undefeated in the Law Enforcement Challenge component of the Battle of the Belts.
Every element of the 2 days went off on time as scheduled. Because of our largest turnout of volunteers, the Committee had everything cleaned up and we were off the school grounds by 3:30 PM, the earliest ever.
Year 10 – April 30 & May 1, 2011 - Our 10th running on May 1st was a hit under sterling blue skies and mid-70’s temperatures on both Saturday and Sunday.
First Niagara Bank, our Presenting Sponsor, added 50 volunteers to our pool of 110. Total registrations were 1,320. Chuck Terry, 28, of Albany repeated as 5K Champion (16:11) and Betsy Edinger, 17, of Greenwich won the women’s 5K division (19:45). The one mile youth race, Meghan’s Mile, saw Erin Clark, 12, of Old Chatham win the girls race (6:34) and Chase Werner, 12, of Stuyvesant set a new course record in 5:51.
An elite-level performance and new 60-69 men’s age group record was produced on the 5K course by Bob Giambalvo, 61, from Delhi with a time to 18:41. The 13-15 age group records were smashed in both gender divisions by Ross Wightman, 15, Chatham (17:49) and Madeline Montage, 15, Greenwich (20:31).
Sea Jem’s Super Saturday Run for Kids with Special Needs, in its second year, attracted participants from across the region. Meghan’s Mile and the 5K went off flawlessly and exactly on time.
Pine Plains Stissing Mt. High School won the title of World Champions in the Battle of the Belts that saw 12 high school teams and 7 middle school groups compete for bragging rights in the seatbelt buckling contest. Our Prevention Education Expo had an increase in the numbers of visitors.
14 grants were awarded to schools and youth groups to implement programs that combat underage drinking and teens’ lax use of seatbelts. We also awarded 6 scholarships to outstanding college-bound seniors. To-date we gave given away $148,950 as scholarships to graduating seniors and as grants to schools and youth groups.
Year 11 – April 28 & 29, 2012 – Mostly sunny both days, Saturday 52 degrees, breezy, Sunday, 53 degrees, windy, gusts to 40mph. 1,375 entries total.
First Niagara Bank, our Presenting Sponsor, added 25 volunteers to our pool of 75. Total registrations were 1,375. Chuck Terry, 29, of Albany three-peated as 5K Champion (16:08). Chuck is the first runner to win Sean’s Run three times. Brina Seguine, 22, of Rensselaer won the women’s 5K division (19:11). The one mile youth race, Meghan’s Mile, saw Samantha Taylor, 12, of Philmont win the girls race (6:41) and Noah Summers, 12, of Chatham win overall with a time of 6:39.
A new 13-15 female age group record (20:26), was set by Erin Clark, 13, of Old Chatham. Another female age group record (21:28), for the 50-59 group, was set by Linnea Van Tassle, 51, of Ghent.
Sea Jem’s Super Saturday Run for Kids with Special Needs, in its third year, attracted 19 participants from across the region. Meghan’s Mile and the 5K went off flawlessly and exactly on time.
We added a new feature – the Sean’s Run Zumbathon® - on Saturday morning which attracted 65 participants and raised money to support Driver’s Education programming at Chatham High School. We expect to continue this new activity next year.
Fonda-Fultonville High School SADD won the title of World Champions in the Battle of the Belts that saw 9 high school teams and 9 middle school groups compete for bragging rights in the seatbelt buckling contest. Our Prevention Education was visited by many participants.
15 grants were awarded to schools and youth groups to implement programs that combat underage drinking and teens’ lax use of seatbelts. We also awarded 6 scholarships to outstanding college-bound seniors.
To-date we gave given away $160,950 as scholarships to graduating seniors and as grants to schools and youth groups.
Year 12 – April 27 & 28, 2013 – the most participants ever! 1,618 people registered to participate in one or both days under perfect weather conditions of blue skies and 70 degree temperatures both days.
On Sunday the 5K and Meghan’s Mile saw the most finishers in the event’s 12-year history. Matthew Forys of New York City, age 27, tied his course record of 15:18 set in 2008 and became the 2nd runner to win the race three times. Chelsea Benson of Hudson, NY, age 30, won the women’s division with a time of 19:22.
5K records were set in four age groups including 80 and Over Women: Anny Stockman, 80, Rensselaer, 35:31. 60-69 Women: Judy Phelps, 62, Malta, 22:37. 50-59 Women: Linnea Van Tassel, 52, Chatham, 20:50 and 13-15 Males: Kaushik Pilar, 15, Latham, 17:16.
Overall winners of Meghan’s Mile were Riley Werner, 12, Valatie, 6:44 and Louis Warner, 9, Kinderhook, 6:56.
The 5K began after a remembrance of the victims of the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings. Runners and walkers in the 5K and Meghan’s Mile were treated to a spread of nutritional foods and drinks after crossing the finish line.
The World Championship Battle of the Belts contested on Sunday was won the team Violation 12.19 from Mohonasen High School, Schenectady County. The Junior High Division was won by the Bucklin’ Bunnies from Chatham MS. 13 schools from across the region brought teams to compete in the annual seatbelt bucking competition.
The first-ever Sean’s Run Bike Rides on Saturday attracted 220 bicyclist entrants. Half chose a scenic 50-mile route which included country roads, village and city streets and lovely countryside vistas. The others opted for the 20-mile ride featuring an out-and-back course. Both rides included a lively rest stop at the Mellenville Firehouse with a variety of treats and a finish line refreshment tent featuring both hot and cold foods and drinks.
The second Sean’s Run Zumbathon, a 2-hour non-stop fitness party, was held Saturday in the Chatham elementary school gym with 75 participants. Six Zumba instructors volunteered to keep the party going and a volunteer DJ made sure the music never stopped. Refreshments were served at the conclusion of the Zumbathon.
Saturday’s activities concluded with the 4th running of our Super Saturday Run for Special Needs Kids. 25 kids of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities enjoyed all the amenities of Sean’s Run including a run that concluded under the Sean’s Run finish line banner, t-shirt, medals and refreshments.
We awarded grants to 14 schools and organizations to implement programs to combat underage drinking, impaired driving and lax use of seatbelts by teenagers.
Also, we awarded 6 scholarships to deserving college bound seniors.
To date we have awarded $172,571 in grants and scholarships since 2002.
Year 13 – April 26 & 27, 2014
1,479 total registrations.
1,250 registered in 5K or Mile.
3 age-group course records in 5K
174 Bike Ride registrations.
46 in Zumbathon.
9 in Special Needs Kids Run.
24 Teams in the Battle of the Belts.
1 World Champion in Battle of Belts – Mohonasen High School repeated as Champs
6 Scholarships Recipients.
14 Grants awarded.
12 agencies with exhibits in Prevention Education Expo.
6 times rain started and stopped over the weekend.
38 degrees when Bike Rides began on Saturday.
44 degrees and 35 mph winds gusts at 9 AM on Sunday.
1 special 14-year old, Kari Liedel, killed by a drunk driver, was remembered.
3 volunteer fire companies and 1 running club provided volunteers.
Countless smiles seen and positive feedback heard by the Organizing Committee.
430 – total number entrants ages 18 and Under
247 – total # in largest 10/year age group – ages 50 – 59
190 – number of registrations from each Zip Code – 12075 & 12037
77 – number of Out-of-State registrations/donors
842 – female registrants/donors (60% of total)
$183,571 – amount contributed as Grants and Scholarships to-date
Year 14 – April 25 & 26, 2015 – with 1,493 total registrations, this was the 2nd largest event. Saturday’s weather conditions were cool (40 degrees when the Bike Rides started) and overcast. Sunday saw perfect running weather (52 for start of the 5K) and partly cloudy.
Sean’s Run Weekend was voted ColumbiaCounty’s Best Community Event-Spring by our participants, spectators, supporters and sponsors in a contest by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and the Register Star and Chatham Courier newspapers.
The 5K and Meghan’s Mile attracted 1,220 registrants. Overall winners were Lisa Daniello, 29, from Albany with a time of 19:27, and Thomas O’Grady, 29, from Latham with a time of 16:54. Two age group 5K records were set: 12 and Under Female – Jenna-marie Morin, 12, from Troy with a time of 22:25, and 80 and Over – Richard Eckhardt, 81, from Albany broke his own record set the year before with a time of 40:36.
Overall winners of Meghan’s Mile were Katie Everett, 11, Old Chatham, 6:49 and Casey Sitzer, 12, Ghent, 6:05.
The 10th World Championship Battle of the Belts was contested on Sunday and for three years in a row, a team from Mohonasen High School, Schenectady County, won the World Championship! The Mohonasen Safety Bucklets won with a time of 39.09. The Junior High Division was won by the M&M’s from Algonquin MS, Averill Park in 37.41.
Sean’s Rides on Saturday had 196 entrants who enjoyed the fun and amenities of the area’s premier early-spring supported ride with 50-mile, 20-mile and 10-mile scenic routes. GranFondo.com posted an outstanding review by participant Greg MacConnell.
Sean’s Run Zumbathon, a 2-hour non-stop fitness party, was held Saturday in the Chatham elementary school gym with 63 participants. Four Zumba instructors volunteered to keep the party going and a volunteer DJ made sure the music never stopped.
Saturday’s activities concluded with the 6th running of our Super Saturday Run for Special Needs Kids. 14 kids of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities enjoyed all the amenities of Sean’s Run including a run that concluded under the Sean’s Run finish line banner, t-shirt, medals and refreshments.
We awarded grants to 17 schools and organizations to implement programs to combat underage drinking, impaired driving and lax use of seatbelts by teenagers.
Also, we awarded 6 scholarships to deserving college bound seniors. To date we have awarded $195,506 in grants and scholarships since 2002.
We dedicated the 2015 Sean’s Run Weekend to Max Richard Kelly, a very popular outstanding student and athlete at Columbia Greene Community College, who was killed as a passenger in a car crash on December 31, 2012. His 19-year old buddy, the driver, was intoxicated.
Year 15 – April 23 & 24, 2016. Our 15th running offered everything expected of a highly regarded and exceptionally well-produced community event. Participants and sponsors alike have spoken, and voted Sean’s Run Weekend as “Best Community Event-Spring” in Columbia County.
Simply put, the 15th Annual Sean’s Run Weekend was our best event ever. A total of 1,820 people registered for the various activities of Sean’s Run Weekend. The weather was perfect, for April – no rain, mostly sunny and temps in low 60s.
The Weekend was dedicated to the memory of Christopher Stewart, the 17-year old Shenendehowa High School football team captain who was killed on December 1, 2012 when a drunk driver crashed into Christopher’s car.
Our flagship activity — Sean’s Run 5K and Meghan’s Mile — attracted 1,550 registrants, the largest field since the event’s inception in 2002.
In the Men’s 5K 80-and-Over age group, the old course record set by Richard Eckardt’s, 81, Albany, NY was shattered by Wade Stockman, 81, Rensselaer, NY in a time of 31:01. In addition two other runners bested the former record, including Charles Blanchard, 82, East Chatham, NY (34:04) and Dick Green, 81, East Chatham, NY (36:19).
First-time 5K winners, Ross Wightman and Hayley Madsen, dedicated their wins to Ross’s sister Leah Wightman, a perennial Sean’s Run participant who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) in early March and awaits a Bone Marrow Transplant.
A new feature of the 5K, the Firefighters’ Challenge, drew volunteer firefighters from across the county who ran in their firefighting protective gear — a demonstration of their commitment and dedication to protecting their communities.
Katie Everett, 12, claimed her third consecutive Meghan’s Mile Champion title and Graham Richard, 11, won the boys mile race.
Prior to the start of the 5K Run/Walk, the hotly contested and rollicking World Championship Battle of the Belts included a field of 19 teams representing schools from across the region. When the Battle was over, Mohonasen High School, Schenectady County, retained their title as World Champions for the fourth consecutive year, having now won the title 5 times in 11 annual contests.
Sunday’s agenda included the Prevention Education Expo and the introduction of the Sean’s Run Scholarship Winners and the recipients of Sean’s Run Grants to schools and youth groups. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and participants, we have given over $208,000 to support these two areas of interest over the past 14 years.
Congressman Chris Gibson (19th CD) from Kinderhook, presented a framed copy of the Congressional Record from April 14, 2016 when the Congressman made a presentation on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives honoring the life of Sean Patrick French and the good works of Sean’s Run Weekend. The Congressman has never missed participating in the 5K since his election 6 years ago.
Three new elements of the weekend – entertainment by the Berkshire Bateria Brazilian Drum group, an interactive exhibit by Artists for Sean’s Run and an expanded Finish Line Food Court offering a variety of samples from local restaurants and caterers were well received.
On Saturday over 200 bicyclists, offered a choice of either a 50-, 20- and 10-mile route, enjoyed nice riding conditions and fun rest stops and a refreshments tent at the finish line. Though not a race, it is notable that the first cyclist to complete the 50-mile route finished in 2:29, averaging a very respectable 20 mpg on the roads that were all open to traffic.
The Sean’s Run Zumbathon attracted over 50 of the area’s most dedicated “fitness fanatics” in the two-hour, non-stop dance party.
Kids of all ages with physical and intellectual disabilities enjoyed the Super Saturday Run for Special Needs Kids.
Once again, in a contest hosted by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and Columbia-Greene Media, the people voted Sean’s Run Weekend as Columbia County’s Best Community Event-Spring in 2016.