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Apr 11, 2011 1:47 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Great Turnout For Inaugural Katy's Courage 5K In Sag Harbor

Apr 11, 2011 1:47 PM

More than 1,000 runners and walkers crossed the finish line under sunny skies at the inaugural Katy’s Courage 5K race in Sag Harbor on Saturday morning, and participants agreed that the race was a testament to both the tight-knit family environment prevalent in the communities of Sag Harbor and East Hampton as well as how much Katy Stewart was loved.

The race was created to honor the memory of Stewart, who died at the age of 12 on December 30 following a battle with hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer. Stewart was a lifelong resident of Sag Harbor and attended Sag Harbor Elementary School. Her father, Jim Stewart, is a teacher and coach at East Hampton High School, and her mother, Brigid, is the assistant principal at the Montauk School.

Mike Semkus, 23, of Sag Harbor was the overall winner in 17:48 (5:45 pace) on the 5K course, which began near Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor, went down Main Street, then down Glover Street and into the Redwood section of Sag Harbor before coming out back to the Baron’s Cove area. It is the same course that the annual Minds Over Matter race follows each year.

Semkus, a 2005 graduate of Pierson High School, said he did not know Katy personally, but has worked in the Amagansett and Montauk schools as a substitute teacher and was familiar with Katy’s parents and Katy’s battle with cancer.

“The turnout was awesome,” he said after the race. “To have everybody from Southampton to Montauk out here is pretty cool. It really does show you how good our town is.”

Ross Kadri, 18, who is a member of the Ross School varsity track team and lives in East Hampton, finished second in 18:06 (5:50). Luis Ramirez, 20, of Water Mill was third in 18:08 (5:51), while Mike Bahel, 44, of Amagansett was fourth in 18:49 (6:04). Jason Hancock, 37, of Southampton was fifth in 19:04 (6:09); Jeb Thomas, 19, of Coral Springs was sixth in 19:15 (6:13); Laura Brown, 43, of Westhampton Beach was seventh overall and was the first female finisher in 19:19 (6:14); Nico Cassone, 17, of East Hampton was eighth in 19:34 (6:19); Colton Kalbacher, 14, of East Hampton was ninth in 19:37 (6:20); and Brandon West, 18, of East Hampton rounded out the top ten in 19:46 (6:23). West was the starting goalie for the East Hampton boys soccer team this past fall. Jim Stewart coached the varsity boys soccer team for many years at East Hampton before stepping down last season.

For complete results and age group winners, visit island-timing.com.

During Katy’s illness, the Sag Harbor and East Hampton communities showed a generous outpouring of support for Katy—students on varsity sports teams at East Hampton, including the boys soccer and wrestling programs—which were coached by Mr. Stewart—wore yellow T-shirts that read “Katy’s Courage” and dedicated their seasons to Katy. Students and teachers from both the Sag Harbor and East Hampton school districts helped organize and were part of fundraisers to help offset the medical costs Katy’s family incurred during her illness.

The support of both communities was certainly evident on Saturday, and while the great turnout was the first obvious indication of how much people cared, there were plenty of other signs as well. Several high school athletes from both Pierson and East Hampton took part in the race. The East Hampton varsity boys and girls track teams wore their uniforms and showed up in large numbers, while the East Hampton softball and boys lacrosse teams ran the race as well. Before the start of the race, the Lady Bonac softball players gathered together and did a cheer, shouting out “Katy” at the end.

Many elementary and middle school-age runners competed in the race, including students who were classmates and friends of Katy’s at Sag Harbor Elementary School. A large group of her girlfriends stood at the finish line and cheered on the final runners and walkers, sending out large cheers when Katy’s parents and her grandfather came across the finish line. They said they were more than happy to support their friend, and they were eager to talk about her as well.

“She was amazing,” several of her friends chimed in unison when asked about Katy. “She touched so many people and to support her shows how much we loved her.”

“Everyone who met her fell in love with her,” said another.

Emma McMahon and Louisa Berti, two of Katy’s friends, said they have fond memories of the time they spent with her. McMahon said she enjoyed hanging out with Katy at the Stewart household and also enjoyed going to the beach with her. Berti said she will remember Katy’s smile and laugh the most and “how she brought everyone together.”

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Proud to have participated and and wonderful to see this community turn out for this event.
By WhalerFanForLife (13), Southampton on Apr 12, 11 3:15 PM
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