Monday, October 3, 2011

Nugget #46

This article appeared in Sports & Leisure in 2004.

Live, laugh, and love
By Bill Donnelly

To those who knew Kathleen Kavanagh, those words; live, laugh, and love, pretty much describes how she approached life. A pretty woman made beautiful by her ready smile, Kathleen loved life, running, laughing, her family, and her son Sean, a fifth-grader at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Lancaster.
On her fortieth birthday in May of 2001, Kathleen celebrated by running the Buffalo Nissan Marathon. Even after finishing the grueling 26 miles, 385 yards, she finished with a smile. Less than a half year later, tragedy struck, and left us only with memories and pictures of Kathleen’s smile. On the morning of October 6, 2001, while running with two friends before the Ellicottville Fall Festival road race, an off-duty Lackawanna police officer, while driving with a blood-alcohol count of above .24, struck Kathleen and Joan Gregoire, one of her running buddies.
Joan, though seriously injured, survived, and would recover to run again. Kathleen was instantly killed by the car that went crazy, and insanely turned the world upside down to those who loved her. So many people did love her, and had to find a way to remember Kathleen, a way that would honor the manner in which she lived. When her brother, Jim and her parents, decided to have a race in her honor, members of the Checkers Athletic Club rushed in to help.  Kathleen was a member of Checkers, and had so many friends in the running community that wanted to help. 
Not just the running community felt the loss. Last month on August 20, I volunteered and helped with the registration of the third annual KK5K, the race that is run to honor Kathleen. Held in Como Park in Lancaster, 714 runners and walkers signed up to pay tribute to Kathleen, and I saw so many more who just gave money to help the cause. It was their way of feeling the love and the laughter that was Kathleen.
The money raised by the KK5K is split between the St. Mary’s Elementary School Athletic Association, where Sean is now an eighth grader, and the Depew-Lancaster Boys and Girls Club.  The money is used for athletic equipment for these two programs. 
No count is yet available as to how much was raised this year, but it is surely more than the $12,000 raised in each of the first two years.
I moved back to Buffalo from the Cleveland area two years ago, so I never knew Kathleen Kavanagh. I know her brother, Jim, fairly well, and I always figured if she was anything like him, she must have been a very good person. After being at the KK5K this year, and the post-race party, I saw how much love so many people had for Kathleen. I now know for sure what a wonderful person she was. 
People were willing to give because they knew their money was going to a good cause. But they also wanted to give as a way of saying thanks to Kathleen. Thanks for showing us the importance of  living, laughing, and loving.

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