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A Moment of Grace

The death of Elizabeth Garrett shook the Cornell community on March 6th when it was announced that the first female president of the university had succumbed to colon cancer. While our thirteenth leader did not serve for long, she had a lasting impact on the entire Big Red community.

Just over two months later, Cornell continues to remember Garrett, as the Red Key Athlete Honor Society sponsored a 5K on Mother’s Day morning. Proceeds obtained from the newly established annual run will go toward the President Elizabeth Garrett Fund for Colon Cancer Research.

The idea for this event was originally conceived as a way to raise awareness for colon cancer. The run, which was supported by President Garrett before her death, has since become a memorial event due to her passing.

Red Key senior members Olivia Wherry of Big Red squash and football’s Luke Hagy worked together to organize the event that they hope will grow in years to come. Hagy discussed the inception of the idea, saying that the Red Key society “wanted to do something to build awareness” for colon cancer, and after the passing of Garrett, they thought, “It would be a really neat event to honor her and everything she did for Cornell.”

Touchdown the Bear and the Big Red Band both made appearances to show their support for the cause. Aside from these Cornell staples, Hagy was impressed and pleasantly surprised with the amount of support he received from outside organizations. “The coolest thing about putting this event on was all of the people who reached out once they heard about it and were willing to help,” explained Hagy.

The event, which took place at the Cornell Plantations on a beautiful Sunday morning, had about 130 registered participants as well as many more who registered the morning of the race. These runners were a mix of both Cornell students and others from the surrounding Ithaca area. Local community member Marianne Krasny, who read about the event in the Ithaca Journal, ran the race with her children because she “wanted to do something with her kids for Mother’s Day.”

Another group who also ran to support the cause were members of the Cornell Sailing Team. “We just thought it was really important to show our support of cancer research, our team’s support of the athletics department of the university, and, obviously, to celebrate President Garrett and her contributions to Cornell.”

When the winner of this year’s race, senior John Lowry, was asked why he decided to run, he said, “I think every Cornellian felt the loss of president Garrett, so that was the biggest inspiration to come out here.”

While President Garrett did not get to spend as much time with the Big Red as she would have liked, it is clear that her presence on campus made a difference to so many students, faculty, and members of the Ithaca community. For years to come, her influence on everyone will be remembered in many ways, including through the continuation of the Elizabeth Garrett Memorial 5K.

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