A race to remember | ParkRecord.com

A race to remember

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

This spring and summer mark an emotional milestone in the grieving process for five Park City families. It has been roughly one year since former Park City High School students Mike Pennels, Connie Blount, Matt Knoop, Chris Yeates and Erica Knell passed away in separate accidents.

In honor of their sons’ and daughters’ love for sports and the outdoors, the parents of the "Park City 5" are hosting a memorial 5K walk/run on Saturday, May 30. The entire community is invited to take part in a celebration of the students’ lives.

The decision to host a 5K in honor of the five young people seemed like a natural fit, says Ellen Knell, mother of Erica Knell. The kids shared a passion for sports that played an important role in each of their lives. Erica was a competitive aerialist and dancer; Chris was a skiing and climbing enthusiast and was one test away from earning his black belt in karate; Matt was a gifted soccer player and skier; Connie was a talented equestrian and aficionado of all things outdoors; and Mike loved playing water polo, skiing and racing cars.

The 5K for 5KIDS will start at Dozier Field at Park City High School at 9 a.m. and follow the Park Meadows loop. Check-in and registration begins at 8 a.m. The cost is $20 in advance and $25 the day of the race. Preregistration is open until 8 p.m. the night before the race at http://www.parkcity5.blogspot.com.

Walkers/runners may enter the race as individuals or as teams of four to six people. Awards will be given to the three fastest males and females in two age groups (18 and below and 19 and above) as well as the three fastest teams. Teams are invited to dress according to a theme and the best-dressed team will win a prize. All participants will receive a T-shirt and be entered in an opportunity drawing with a grand prize of a hand-stitched quilt made by Cindy Blount.

The 5K is scheduled the same day as the Park City High School prom, and students are encouraged to make a day out of the events and come together in support of the student community.

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At the start of the race, runners will be invited to sign individual banners honoring the five kids. The finished banners will be placed at the end of the course as an emblem of how many lives that Erica, Chris, Matt, Connie and Mike touched.

"You never know how big of an impact your life has," says Kelly Yeates, mother of Chris Yeates. "The biggest fear for all of us is that our kids will be forgotten."

"We are blown away by all the support from the high school and the community," adds Knell. "And I know the kids would be blown away as well."

Those who prefer not to participate in the 5K but would still like to support the fundraiser may sponsor a runner by making a donation to the Park City 5 Memorial Fund. A sponsorship form can be found at http://www.parkcity5.blogspot.com.

Proceeds from the 5K will go toward the construction of a sister school to Park City High School in a village near Riobamba, Ecuador. It is the parents’ wish to honor their children’s education by providing quality teaching in an area of need. In July, 46 family members, friends and students will travel to the village to begin construction on the school.

The collaboration on the memorial fund, sister school and fundraising projects has brought the five mothers together and helped them cope with the grieving process. Before Knell reached out to the other four moms, they had never met. Now they turn to each other for support on particularly difficult days and count on each other for an understanding that is shared only by those who have lost a child.

"We needed the socialization," says Yeates. "It’s nice to take a break from what we’re going through and help other people in need. The kids would want us to do this."

"It has all come together like it was supposed to happen like it was meant to be," says Kaye Knoop, mother of Matt Knoop.

The mothers hope to make the Ecuador expedition an ongoing project and to make the 5K for 5KIDS an annual event.

The Park City 5 Memorial Fund will also host a charity golf tournament on June 8 at 3 p.m. at Jeremy Ranch Golf Course. Golfers may sign up as individuals or team members. The cost is $70 per golfer and includes awards and a light dinner following the 18-hole shotgun tournament. For more information or to sign up, visit ww.parkcity5.blogspot.com.