Runners, walkers and supporters spent a rainy morning at Gring’s Mill Park on Sunday morning, Aug. 17, for the seventh annual Run4Sam. The 4 mile or 10K race and 2 mile walk followed by kids fun run is in memory and honor of Samuel Brooklyn Reed, a Schuylkill Valley High School graduate and cross country runner who was killed by a hit and run drunk driver while attending the University of Pittsburgh on September 1, 2007.
“This was Sam’s very special place so it’s our honor to honor him in this way,” said Peggy Reed, Sam’s mother and race director.
Before this year’s race along the winding Tulpehocken Creek on the Union Canal Towpath, there were two special presentations that could not have happened without Run4Sam. The first was a brief groundbreaking ceremony of a new pavilion that will be located near the new playground at the park.
“We’d like to thank everyone for coming out for the annual Run4Sam here today,” said Christopher Stress, director of the county parks and recreation department, during the ceremony. “Today we have a special activity up here on the hill. Run4Sam has graciously donated $10,000 for the purchase of a pavilion here at Gring’s Mill. We are very, very indebted to Run4Sam and thanks to Peggy Reed and all of her team for making this happen.”
The donation covers nearly half of the 24 by 24 foot pavilion’s anticipated cost. According to a release from Berks County Parks and Recreation Department, the pavilion will resemble a pavilion that is already in the Red Bridge Recreation Area, but will be slightly smaller. Blueprints and plans for the pavilion were on display at the ceremony. The pavilion is expected to be completed later this year.
Previously, Run4Sam has donated $3,500 to the riparian border at Gring’s Mill and three AEDs for the parks including one designated for the rangers’ bike patrol, according to the release. Trees along the running trail including more than 40 Dogwood, Redbud and Tree Hydrangeas to enhance the beauty of the park were also planted thanks to Run4Sam.
“Thank you to Run4Sam, especially Peggy Reed and all of her supporters and followers,” said Kevin Barnhardt, Berks County Commissioner. “Without this contribution, this would not be able to happen and it’s really a fitting tribute to her son and to the wonderful people here in Berks County who support her each year. This is all about giving back to the community. We love you here.”
Barnhardt joked about not having to worry about the rain at future Run4Sam events once the pavilion is built.
“When we started Run4Sam, part of our mission really was to give back to this park,” said Reed. It was my son’s favorite place, so we’re just very, very proud of all the different, really significant projects that we can be a part of and we just want to continue this partnership.”
After ground was broken at the site of the new pavilion, runners (and walkers) lined up at the start of the race and were given some last minute instructions on the course. Right before the race started, Run4Sam had another small presentation this time to Schuylkill Valley School District.
“The other thing that we’re proud to do this year is to long time track and cross country coaches at Schuylkill Valley. They were of course Sam’s coaches when he ran there,” said Reed. “They have a campaign to replace their old and out-dated cinder track with an all-weather track [and turf field]. And they do produce state champions so we want to be a part of their campaign.”
Run4Sam presented Schuylkill Valley School District stadium campaign with a check for $5,000 to help in their fundraising efforts.
“On behalf of the Run4Sam, we proudly would like to give you this check for $5,000 for your track and field,” said the treasurer of Run4Sam. “And I know as an eight year member of the school board of Schuylkill Valley this has been a dream that we’ve all had. I’m very happy that it’s coming to fruition.”
Accepting the check along with the track coaches and athletic director was Dr. Warren Mata the superintendent for the school district.
“They have produced a number of winning seasons for us, but even more than that, thank you for the discipline you give our kids. Thank you for the aspirations you bring out in them. That’s really what running is about,” said Mata addressing the coaches. “If we can get an all-weather track that’s up to eight lanes it will allow us to do so much more here in this district.”
Following the ceremonies it was time for the race to begin. Runners were cheered on as the crossed the bridge and began the race along the scenic trail. For those not participating in the run or runners once they finished, there were various tents of other activities including balloon animals, food, raffles and of course a DJ.
For more information on Run4Sam visit http://run4sam.net/.