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Rich Dalessandro Memorial race continues virtually


The Rich Dalessandro Memorial Run continues this year  – virtually. 

DGKN staff report
DALTON  Even though races and other events have been canceled or changed, cancer has not been canceled and race director Chrissy Fratena would like to spread the word that the popular Rich Dalessandro Memorial Fall Turkey Run and Walk is continuing this year – virtually.

“We will continue to work hard to raise money for those battling this disease and hope everyone can join us,” Fratena wrote in an email.

The annual Rich Dalessandro Memorial race is a fun-filled family event that brings a growing number of returnees and newcomers from in and around Dalton together and raises thousands of dollars every year for local families and for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The race is in memory of Fratena’s brother, Rich Dalessandro, who was well-known in the community and died April 29, 2007 at age 36 after a strong battle with leukemia.

This year’s virtual race is Nov. 7 and the deadline is Sept. 30 to get a shirt and before the registration price goes up. Packets will be mailed beginning Oct. 23 so participants can receive swag in plenty of time.

How it works is participants do not have to run or walk on the race date, but can choose any time, date or place, and they have up to one week after the race to submit their results to be eligible for awards.

“We knew something might pop up for our ‘lucky’ 13th annual race, but we never expected this,” Fratena wrote in an email. “Due to Covid-19, we had to make the difficult decision to change to a virtual event this year. This means participants will sign up for the 5k, 10k, or 2-Mile and run/walk it anytime, anywhere. However, we have a lot of really great perks in place.”

Every year, proceeds from the event are split between the Northern Ohio chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and local residents.

This year’s recipient is Sawyer Riggenbach. The 7-year-old is from Canal Fulton and attends Orrville schools, where his mother, Genet Riggenbach, is a teacher.

“Their world was turned upside down in March when Sawyer was diagnosed with Burkitts Lymphoma,” ac-cording to the race website. “In the words of his mom, this type “is a terribly fast producing lymphoma and its treatment is harsh and aggressive which often causes its patients to stay in the hospital more than they are home during treatments.” They are currently in the hospital and Sawyer could use some prayers, as he is suffering the side effects of this disease and its treatment. But, he is a fighter.”

Details and to register for the race are available at:

A virtual race means hundreds of people won’t be running through town on the same brisk fall morning while supporters hold up signs and gather for a health expo at Dalton Elementary & Middle School afterward. But participants still have opportunities to support a good cause, connect, enjoy some fun activities, and many aspects of the event remain the same, such as:
* Registered participants will receive a premium race shirt (Fratena promises it will be a unique shirt and “probably the coolest shirt we’ve ever had!”), custom race bib, and finisher’s medal mailed to their home as part of their registration.
* Not many virtual races have awards but the Dalessandro memorial run will still have both overall and age group awards.
* A private Facebook group only for registered participants has been created so that we can all connect virtually. Members can post pictures, encourage other runners/walkers, and stay connected in this time of social distancing.
* Participants can take part in the Photo Contest to win prizes. Categories include most creative, best fall running picture, best Rich Dalessandro Memorial (RDM) themed picture, funniest RDM picture, and best running costume.
* Spark Entertainment will be providing an exclusive Spotify run/walk playlist for everyone who registers.
* Weekly door prizes will be drawn starting in October until race day.

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