Memorial 5K to mark first anniversary of Columbine tragedy

A time to remember, a time to hope.

That is the theme for memorial events planned next week as the painful first anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre approaches.

The first Columbine Memorial 5K Run/Walk, set for 9 a.m. (MT) Sunday, is expected to draw some 2,000 runners from across Colorado, the nation and the world.

Among the runners scheduled to compete in the 3.1-mile run/walk are Kenyans Philip Kurui and Peter Tanui, along with Libbie Hickman and Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken.

Focusing on the theme of hope for the future and remembrance of those whom were lost or injured in the shootings that left 15 dead on April 20, 1999, three $5,000 scholarships will be created annually through the Columbine Memorial 5K Scholarship Fund.

"The money for the first three scholarships for this year is already in the bank," said Rick Kaufman, executive director of communications for Jefferson County Public Schools. "Certainly with a large number of runners registered additional money will help build that scholarship fund in future years."

Initial funding for the first three scholarships was provided by Johns Manville International,, New Horizon Credit Union, and First Data Corp. The event also is supported by Running USA, a nonprofit road-racing organization. 5K Run/Walk participants can register online for the race at, and at the same time can designate an immediate donation to the scholarship fund.

The first three scholarships will be awarded to three students, one each for Columbine High School, Dakota Ridge High School and Chatfield High School.

The scholarship will recognize those students that demonstrate a willingness to give back to the community through participation in activities such as student government, athletics, performing arts, fine arts and community service.

As part of the remembrance theme, on the back of each runner's bib is written "I'm running in memory of (with a space)" if a person wants to put a name of a victim or someone who was killed or injured.

Acclaimed sports artist Malcolm Farley, the official artist of the U.S. Open and the NBA All-Star Game as well as numerous running events including the Colorado Marathon and the Cozumel Marathon, donated the artwork for the Memorial 5K's trademark.

Designs for the official T-shirt graphic were drawn from a competitive art contest among the three Jefferson County high schools.

A Columbine freshman, Jeannette McFarland, won the contest. Her design includes a blue and silver ribbon, representing the colors of Columbine High. Sprinkled throughout the ribbon are colorful Colorado flowers.

The idea for the Memorial 5K came from Creigh Kelley, the event director and president of BKB Ltd., a national special events management company headquartered in Englewood, Colo. Specializing in running, walking and multisports events.

"Obviously April 20th, 1999, is burned in everyones memory, at least around here," Kelley said. "I was just returning from Italy and I was in a red- carpet club at Dulles (International Airport) in Washington and saw the story unfold on TV. When I turned on my cell phone there was a message from Dennis Giannageli. He is a close friend of mine who owns Runners Roost running stores. When I got back to him he said: 'I don't know where this is all going, but we have to do something. Let's put on a race, we'll raise some money, we don't know what for yet, but I'm sure there's going to be a need.' And I said I'm in.

"The two of us partnered in together and created the event," Kelley said. "We then went through the very extensive work in securing the park that has become so familiar around here. Clement Park was where all the kids sort of ran to when leaving the high school. It became a signature of the location. It's contiguous to Columbine High. So what happened was we did all the permitting and touched the entire basis. There was a very deliberate attempt to keep a political emphasis or agenda far removed very much at arms-length from this particular event.

"Our instinct, which I think has proved correct, was that we wanted to create an event that would raise scholarship funds that would be distributed each year, a minimum of three $5,000 scholarships," Kelley said. The second thing we decided to do was make it an annual event and not just a one-time thing so that the event would endure as a celebration of life."

The race will start at the north side of Clement Park, close to a public library, which is in the park. It runs through the park a little bit and onto a residential neighborhood to the east of the park. The race finishes in the north parking lot of Columbine High, and the post-event party and awards ceremony takes place back in Clement Park.

Entry fee is $20 for adults and $15 for students.

A second Columbine Memorial 5K Run/Walk race already has been scheduled for April 22, 2001.

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