On August 27th, 2002, Kevin Dare represented Penn State at the Big Ten men’s indoor track and field championship at the University of Minnesota. Tragedy struck during a pole-vaulting accident that ended up costing his life. Now, on the ten-year anniversary of Kevin’s accident, ten athletes will attempt to run 1,000 miles in his memory.
The run, called the “Life Back on Track Relay,” will start at noon on August 27th at the University of Minnesota, the site of Kevin’s death. It will end on August 31st in State College, the place where Kevin grew up and eventually became a Penn State student athlete.
The memorial will span six states, and amounts to exactly 1,000 daunting miles. The current world record for a 1,000-mile relay is 99 hours 3 minutes and 27 seconds and is held by a South African marathon team. The Kevin Dare Foundation, whose mission is to “provide university scholarships to high achieving high school athletes who have suffered a debilitating illness or injury,” is hoping to break that record.
“We want to show people what the school is really about,” said Ryan Foster, one of the runners who is among the eight Penn State alumni running in the relay. Though none of the athletes have actually met Kevin, the inspiration for the run comes directly from him, “We want to carry on his legacy”.
The company sponsors, including PFG, Garmin, New Balance, Oakley, and Tenthwave are making the relay possible, but it will not be short of challenges. “We jokingly say that bathroom breaks will be the most difficult part,” said Ryan when asked of possible obstacles.
The runners are also hoping to cross the finish line on the Penn State campus pending approval from the University. Kevin was the only student athlete in Penn State history to pass away while representing his school in the field of competition. Finishing on campus would be a fitting end for the men, especially because of Kevin’s dedication to his school.
Everyone involved with the foundation and the run are hopeful that this will be something positive for the Penn State community to rally around and support. The runners are hoping to show the world that Penn State love runs deep, and was built and carried on by men like Kevin Dare. Ryan has set a goal of raising $20,000 through the run, which is enough for one full scholarship.
In a time when Penn State athletics is at the epicenter of controversy, it’s people like these ten runners along with Kevin Dare who show the true nature of college athletics. People who are dedicated to improving a community and the lives that support it are the backbone of the University. Kevin was the embodiment of the mantra “once a Penn Stater, always a Penn Stater”.
by: Mara Kern