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Over $7500 Raised for Brendan Grant Scholarship Fund

By Kathy Synnott

BELMONT - The Brendan Grant FoundationTM, a rookie in the road race racewalk29_29.jpg (9579 bytes)game, proved able to hit for distance in its first annual 5K race - Brendan's Home RunTM. The event, held on Father's Day, raised over $7500 to benefit The Brendan Grant Scholarship Fund, established in memory of Brendan Grant, the accomplished 19-year old Belmont baseball player who was fatally injured  in an outfield collision during a Senior Babe Ruth game in June 200l.

The scholarship providesracewalk04_04a.jpg (8503 bytes) assistance to a senior member of the Belmont High School varsity baseball team who will be attending an institution of higher learning after graduation. The scholarship is intended to reward a player who possesses the same positive spirit and leadership skills for which Brendan was known. The first Brendan Grant Scholarship was awarded to Scott Masse, a member of the Class of 2002.

Prior to race day, 104 runners and 122 walkers from eight different states had registered to participate in the 5K race/walk. They were joined by 77 more runners and 62 more walkers who signed up racewalk07_07a.jpg (9501 bytes)before the 9:30 AM walk start, and 10:00 AM race starting gun. The participants covered every age category from 19-and- under to 60-and-over. Over 300 entrants traversed the course which began on Concord Avenue at Belmont High School, proceeded to Cross Street past Winn Brook School, followed Channing Road back to Concord Avenue and finished up on the BHS athletic fields. The morning was cool and cloudy, perfect for competitive times and maximum enjoyment.

racewalk04_05.jpg (8475 bytes)After the walkers and runners got underway, kids aged 12 and under got a chance to flex their competitive muscles. Two groups of children, 10 to 12 and 9-and-under, raced on an oval turf course supervised by Bill O'Connor and Mary Johansson. Every child wore a #1 (Brendan's baseball uniform number while at BHS) and received a ribbon for participating. racewalk13_14.jpg (8925 bytes)The top finishers in the 10-12 year old boys' grouping were: Matt Starr, Matt Johnston, Kevin Connors, and Brian Viglirolo, all from Belmont. Sara Sterling of Mansfield won the girls' division. The large field of 6-to-9 year olds was led by Cannon Connors, Daniel Miller-Medzon, and Kevin Connors for the boys, while Amy Sterling of Mansfield, Emily Butte and Lela Gannon were the best of the girls.

With the childrens' race concluded, attention turned to the first walkers approaching the finish line. Dee Welles completed the course in 41 minutes flat, with Jim Synnott just shy of a minute behind at 41:56. Shortly thereafter, the lead male runner, Jon Rosen, clocked a winning time of 16:21.5. The top female runner, Lauren Caputo of Belmont, crossed the finish line with a time of 20:35.

racewalk14_14a.jpg (7899 bytes)Once the racers finished the course, they were able to regroup with water from Belmont Springs, oranges from Shaw's Supermarkets, watermelon from A. Russo & Sons of Watertown, and drinkable yogurt from Stonyfield Farms. WheelWorks provided canopy tents to protect the refreshment and registration tables. Belmont Springs and WheelWorks, along with Champions Sporting Goods and the Woburn High School Cross-Country Team, were official sponsors of Brendan's Home Run.

While the participants waited to hear the final results from all of the age racewalk05_05a.jpg (7682 bytes)brackets, raffle prizes were awarded by emcee Rick Freeman. 2002 Brendan Grant Scholarship winner Scott Masse chose the winning tickets. Prizes were donated by New Balance, Marathon Sports, Thunder Sports, the New England Revolution, the Boston Breakers, the Boston Red Sox and Doug Flutie. A number of pairs of Red Sox tickets and a gift certificate to Legal Seafoods were donated by W.T. Phelan Insurance, and Jim Harvey and Bob Elias also chipped in a pair of Sox tickets. Gift certificates to Legal Seafoods, Skipjack's, and CafeŽ Louis were given away as well.

racewalk19_20.jpg (7962 bytes)The event ended with the announcement of male and female winners by age group. Top male finishers by age group were: 19/under- Dan Vasallo; 29/under - Jon Rosen; 39/under - Mike Di Mauro; 49/under - Fred Criniti; 59/under - Mark Haley; and, over 60 - Ram Satyaprasad. Female winners by age group were: 19/under - Lauren Caputo; 29/under - Caitlin O'Connor; 39/under - Carolyn Butte; 49/under - Annette Downing; and 59/under - Isabel Mroczkowski.

The inaugural Brendan's Home Run was designed to be a family affair and racewalk15_15a.jpg (8377 bytes)the numbers of walkers and runners with the same surnames gave ample evidence that that was the case. Bill Dillon, coach of the Rangers Little League team went one better. He had his entire team cover the course - in their baseball shirts. Everyone involved - from under 12 to over 60 - had a great time while contributing to a very worthy cause.

racewalk16_17.jpg (10214 bytes)Brian Rogers, coordinator of the event, was extremely pleased with both the financial and athletic results. "We knew we had a significant number of pre-registered runners and walkers. But the number of walk-ons significantly exceeded our expectations. To raise over $7,500 in the first year of such an event ranks as an unqualified success!"

Casey Grant, who wielded the starter's gun at the beginning of the road race, was equally happy about every aspect of Brendan's Home Run. "In addition to the various committee chairs, we had some racewalk02_02.jpg (15905 bytes)three dozen volunteers manning the registration tables, marshaling the course, and providing the participants with refreshments. Their efforts made a huge contribution to the success of the event. The Brendan Grant Foundation is proud to be supported by such a dedicated, hardworking group of people." Mainstays of the race organization included: Jim O'Shaughnessy, Gerry Keegan, Mary Johansson, Diane Newbrough, Steve Kerins, Phil Firenze, Bob Masse, Chris Starr, Pete Noone, Robert and Laurie Solomon, BHS boys track coach Les Eggleston, Bill Uva of the Belmont Recreation Department, and the Belmont Police Department. The expertise of Bill O'Connor, Woburn High School Cross-Country coach, was invaluable.
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"Now that local runners have experienced what a well run and enjoyable event Brendan's Home Run is," said Brian Rogers, "we hope they will spread the word and swell the ranks of participants for the second and succeeding races." That will be good news for the future recipients of The Brendan Grant Scholarship.

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