West Springfield High School Newspaper

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Romano honors mom during yearly Raccoon Run

Annual 5K is a sentimental celebration of social good and fitness

Brian Puhlick, Katie Tinsley, Alexa Romano, Emily Geary, and Greg Plasters were all involved in this year’s Racoon Run

Courtesy of Alexa Romano

Brian Puhlick, Katie Tinsley, Alexa Romano, Emily Geary, and Greg Plasters were all involved in this year’s Racoon Run

Shafuq Naseem, Features Editor

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On your mark, get set, go. The Raccoon Run is the popular 5K run held annually on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend starting and ending at Mantua Elementary.
The co-founders of this race, Joyce Montgomery and Jennifer Lewis-Cooper, came up with the idea and named the race to honor beloved Roberta Romano, a longtime 5th- grade English teacher at Mantua Elementary, who passed away from breast cancer in 2001. Romano’s daughter, Alexa Romano, is an English teacher at WS.
“We’re able to honor my mom’s memory each year on Mother’s Day weekend in the community she loved. I’m always hopeful though because so many people support the run, donate to our cause, and have helped make our run a huge success year after year,” said Romano.
The race, which takes place in the neighborhood near Woodson, significantly affects our community. In the last 16 years, the run has donated more than $160,000 to Life with Cancer, a non-profit organization that offers services to anyone impacted by cancer free of cost.
This includes patients, family members, and friends. Services provide supgroups, counseling, and educational classes
“I’ve always loved doing charity work, or really just working towards benefiting a community,” said sophomore Hanna Bjarnason. “Running raises money, and it’s also a wonderful way to be active.”
While the race is a fun time for families, it takes a big effort to prepare for.
Volunteers are expected to help with many aspects of the race; setting up cones along the 5K route, constructing a balloon arch that runners will run through, and passing out medals to the young-runners in the 1 mile “fun-run.”
A volunteer also steps up to be Mantua’s mascot, Rocky Raccoon.
“We work for months on and off- further out from the event we are working to secure permits, work with the Mantua Community, and reach out to companies for sponsorships,” Romano said. “We also work to do new logos for our shirts and water bottles each year.
As we get closer, we work that whole week to stuff race packets, help register runners, and set up and take down the race the day of,” said Romano.
Over the years, the Raccoon Run has evolved into an event that people from all over the area come to participate in.
“We have runners from all over the area come and participate. It’s nice to bring people together for a common cause,” said Romano.

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West Springfield High School Newspaper
Romano honors mom during yearly Raccoon Run