13th annual 4k Run/Walk to honor former Eastern student


Cassie Buchman

Kinsey Campbell, a freshman pre-nursing major, runs across the finish line at the Shannon McNamara run Sunday afternoon.

Analicia Haynes, Administration Editor

Students, alumni and community members gathered at the Campus Pond Sunday afternoon to continue the outgoing spirit of a fallen role model.

The 13th annual Shannon McNamara 4k Run/Walk was established to honor the life of former Eastern student Shannon McNamara, who was murdered during the summer of 2001.

McNamara was a Physical Education major at the time, worked at the student recreation center and was a member of Alpha Phi sorority.

The Kinesiology and Sports Studies Club hosted the event.

Joann Wakefield, vice president for the KSS Club, said they have been planning the run since the end of winter break.

Wakefield chaired the committee who organized it and said the event is a way to bring the KSS family together.

“KSS is such a close-knit family,” Wakefield said. “Honoring (McNamara) and putting it together makes it feel like more of a family connection.”

Wakefield said the run was an opportunity to get to know McNamara without having to meet her because she was able to organize it in McNamara’s honor.

Larry Ankenbrand, a retired KSS professor, gave a speech before participants started the 4k.

“(She) was always smiling and that’s because her first name was Shannon and the S is for smile,” Ankenbrand said.

Ankenbrand said he had McNamara in class and she was an excellent student as well as a great track runner.

“Every time I had her in class and I called on her, she would turn red in the face and then she would start smiling and she would give a good answer,” Ankenbrand said.

As participants made their way to the end of the run, they were cheered on by a crowd of supporters and motivated to give one final push toward the finish line.

Ankenbrand met participants passing the finish line with a smile and an outreached hand, giving them a high-five and congratulating them for their hard work.

Traci Worby, an adviser for the KSS club, and Maranda Schaljo, another adviser, said the run represents what people thought of McNamara, which was that she was a good student whose smile could brighten anyone’s day.

“You always hear about her smile, the positive attitude she had and the work ethic she had,” Worby said. “We’re trying to take something that is very tragic and turn (it) into something positive.”

Schaljo said although this is the first year she and Worby participated in the organization of the run, the students took the lead and managed the planning of it.

Schaljo said with a leadership board of four students and a club of 50 plus students, they did a good job and received a lot of help.

Worby said though students from exercise studies were sort of the leaders of the event, other students from different areas of focus in KSS chipped in to show their support and participate in an overall team effort.

Schaljo said the run is a way to continue McNamara’s passion by giving all the proceeds from the run to the Shannon McNamara Memorial Scholarship for KSS students.

Jessie Freudenthaler, president of the KSS Club, said the run not only honors the spirit of McNamara but it also provides her with valuable skills needed in the workforce.

“In the career world they’re going to be organizing events, asking for donations and talking to people so really it helps with your communication skills,” Freudenthaler said. “It’s a good cause.”

Freudenthaler and Wakefield said because of her outstanding work in the KSS department, McNamara could definitely be a role model for KSS majors.

“She loved KSS, she loved the department and she worked in the (Student Recreation Center) so it gives people more incentive to get out and do it because it’s for a good cause,” Freudenthaler said. “What happened to her was tragic and this is a way to give people more of an emotional tie to exercise.”

Although McNamara is gone, Freudenthaler said her presence is still here and the run is a family bonding experience to celebrate her presence and life rather than mourn her death.

“We’re all here for each other even when we are not physically (here),” Freudenthaler said.


Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]