Marathoner runs to give hope through Drew
A chain reaction led to a united effort to raise money in memory of a three-year old.
Todd Kirkwood didn't know Randy and Marcie Taylor, though his wife Deena and Randy both taught in the Greencastle-Antrim School District at the time. But he along with the entire community was touched by the Taylors' loss of their son Drew in an automobile accident in 2006.
When the first Dash for Drew was held at Kaley Field in Greencastle that fall, Deena encouraged Todd to run. He signed up for the two-mile race. At the ceremony on a November day, Randy spoke to the crowd. Todd was impressed that, even while fresh with grieving, Randy was able to express his support of the men and women in the military.
Todd, now a 24-year veteran of the Air National Guard, remembered those comments. They caused his running to branch out with a purpose while at the same time merge with a life's goal. This month Todd will run his third Marine Corp Marathon, and the second time as a member of Drew's Crew, a team created by the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation. Alongside him will be Randy and another friend, Mark Ward, who teaches at Chambersburg Area Middle School. On Oct. 25 the three, brought together by a death, will run to support services for the living.
Todd, 43, became serious about the strenuous sport after he was in a motorcycle accident three years ago. Then he realized it was time to put forth the effort to accomplish one of the things on his 'bucket list', to run a marathon. He was already trekking five to seven miles per jog, but not pushed himself further. He fullfilled his dream at the Marine Corp event in October 2007, and then repeated it at the ING Marathon in Miami on a Sunday in January 2008. Deena supported that one as long as he was on the cruise ship Monday for their 10th anniversary trip.
Soon Todd realized he could just as well be running for a cause. He chose Drew's Crew and asked the Taylors for permission. They gave it and Randy decided to get back into running himself.
The three pals will run their own pace at the marathon in Washington D. C., bonded because of their common cause. The families will again make a weekend out of it, together visiting sites in the nation's capital.
Todd set a speed goal for this one. "I'm always around four hours and I'm hoping to go under that, but completing it is an accomplishment in itself."
He will be collecting donations up to and after the race.
The Kirkwoods respect the programs of the entire foundation, but gravitate toward the counseling services offered for children dealing with a sibling's death. They are good friends with two other families who have lost a child, one very recently.
"We've always thought it was an important program, but now it's personal," said Deena. "People we know are benefitting from Drew's Hope."
Todd agreed. "I was beyond words, how the Taylors can take something so tragic and turn it into something positive. It's unfortunate the organization has to be there, but the counseling meets a need."
Drew's Hope caters to younger people, using counseling students and professors from Shippensburg University. Marcie facilitates a bereaved parents support group. The foundation also presents a community service award to a Greencastle-Antrim High School student, and sponsors a kindergarten readiness program in Shippensburg.
The 4th annual Dash for Drew will be Nov. 14 at G-AHS. Registration is now open. Early registration is due Oct. 30 to guarantee a shirt. Details may be found at drewmichaeltaylor.org
The Kirkwoods and the Taylors encourage people to watch for activities throughout the year which raise funds for the foundation. Golfers using the driving range at The Links in Shippensburg on any Tuesday trigger a donation. The internet search engine Goodsearch also benefits the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation.
Todd, Deena and Ward are involved with the youth ministry at Mt. Pleasant Church in Chambersburg. They will also put their ideals into action in public, when the guys pound the pavement for 26.2 miles soon.