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A Time for Remembrance, Resolve, and Running
By Michael Rivest, Runner

April 20, 2009 - New green buds! They are a vivid reminder that what seems gone forever, often isn’t. As still and final as we think things are in January, nature will always, each year at this time, prove us wrong. We may stop believing. But spring doesn’t care what we think; it’s never heard of us. The buds are back and things are alive once more.

So it’s right that Sean’s Run should happen now, in the spring, as it has for eight straight years. It’s right that more than a thousand of us should come together to run and walk in memory of a very special young man who was so tragically taken from us on a cold January morning.

The 8th Annual Sean’s Run will happen at Chatham High School on Sunday, April 26 and is expected to draw a record 1,200 runners and walkers. To date, thanks to generous sponsors and donors, the event has raised $120,550, money that supports youth education and rewards high school students with scholarships.

Just as it has been since the beginning, this year’s Sean’s Run won’t be a solemn, mournful gathering, because that wouldn’t capture Sean’s spirit at all. Sean wouldn’t show up for that. We’re going to laugh, put on our Nikes and run. Not like he did, of course. This kid ran like the wind.

From the age of 7, Sean was a champion, winning so many awards that his room at home looked more like a hall of fame than a place to sleep. He became one of the finest local high school athletes of his generation, and one of the best high school runners New York State has ever seen.

Always an honor student, Sean was only in the 10th grade when he placed second in the New York State Public High School Cross-Country Championships. And when track season came around he ran the fastest metric mile of any sophomore in the State - 4:18. Months after his death, his Dad was still opening mail containing scholarship offers from prestigious universities.

Yes, Sean French will be with us on April 26. He wouldn’t miss it because Sean’s Run is so much more than a race, and because Sean was so much more than a runner. He believed in things larger than himself - like the feelings of others, and in what would make the world a better place. If you knew him, just imagine Sean now, winged feet and all, delighting in endless runs, and encouraging others by his contagious enthusiasm and bright smile.

In the world as Sean would have it, no other young person would ever again lose his life because of a bad judgment. To drink and drive, to not wear a seat belt, to take such risks with this fragile life we’ve been given, these things simply would not happen.

Sean would never want another Mom & Dad to endure what his parents, Mark and Cathy, have endured, nor see another brother cope with the loss that Eric has had to endure.

Sean wasn’t the only victim in the car crashed by an underage drunk driver in the early minutes of New Years Day, 2002.

With him were two close friends, one was fortunately buckled safely in the front seat. The other, Ian Moore, permanently injured in the crash, sat unbuckled next to Sean in the rear seat. The Moore family, too, is forever scarred by the same act of foolishness. Knowing Sean, he would do whatever he could to see Ian walk, and to see no family ever goes through that again.

Once again, the First Niagara Bank will serve as Presenting Sponsor for Sean’s Run, offering a small army of event volunteers and generously contributing $10,000 so that they, too, won’t ever have to read in the paper, or hear on the news, that it’s happened one more time. Their sponsorship seems to shout, “No more!”

So when you lace up those Nikes on April 26, when you watch or participate in the Battle of the Belts competition or in any of the other Sean’s Run events, know that together, and with Sean, you are making our communities safer places.

Then, as you head down the Sean’s Run course, look up at the cloud of dust in front of the pack. Don’t waste time wondering who that is. After all, it’s Spring again, and what we think is gone, isn’t always.

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