ORLANDO, Fla. - The 5th annual 5k Run took place Sunday in honor of Justin Harvey. Runners and walkers of all ages came to school bright and early to raise money for the cause. All benefits from the race went toward scholarships at Valencia Community College and the Alumni Association.
The University of Central Florida student athletic trainers organization also helped the runners with physical warm ups.
The 5k wouldn't have happened without the ambition of Harvey, who worked with UCF to organize the original event.
It took his mother four years to finally attend the event named for the memory of her son. She came, walked and left before the awards were even been handed out.
Describing Harvey, Eileen Stana said, "he was one of the most healthy, energetic guys I know." A few of the participants said they knew Harvey personally and didn't expect for him to tell them he was sick, all of a sudden, one day five years ago.
He passed away two weeks before the first race, still trying to coordinate the coming race while in his hospitable bed. One Alumni member said he was really selfless; that he cared more for others than about himself.
For most people, it's either their first 5k race they had ever run or it was their first at Valencia.
The overall female awards for best time went to the Stricker sisters for first and third place and Francesca Rivas for second.
Rivas normally runs about eight miles every day and makes sure to eat plenty of pasta, cereal and meat to maintain her diet. She also drinks about a gallon of water a day. "I don't really think about it," she said, "I just like water."
Runner Eric Irizarry came in second place, for overall male.
Under the tent right in front of the University Building, nursing and respiratory care students administered physical tests to participants. Nita Harris is a nursing student with two semesters remaining. She said her professor, Kim Laughman, was running while she helped assess the health of students before and after the run.
"A lot of students have heart murmurs, they may feel dizzy and lightheaded and not know why," said program director of respiratory care, Jamy Chulak.
Tom Harris, his wife and two sons, have been running since the race was initially organized. Lee Harris won second place in his division, while his brother and father both won third in their age groups. Lee Harris has been running since he was five years old.
Kelly Knauth, of the Communications department, is participating for the first time this year. She said it was important to raise money for student scholarships and "it's a neat way to meet people. Everyone has a common goal."
Harvey was earning his degree in Sports Medicine, but few people knew about his passion for music. He was also a concert musician.
He was also part of the scholarship committee, as well as being on the Valencia Student Alumni Board. He founded the 5k run on Feb. 26, 2006.
Previously published in the Valencia Voice