DALTON Organizers for the 15th and final Rich Dalessandro Memorial run this year expect the event to be “bittersweet” and they also expect it to sell out – and sell out quickly.
After a decade and a half, the popular Dalton race that brings out families and friends walking, running, strolling for a good cause is coming to an end. Over the years the event raised roughly $200,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and local recipients. That’s before the $20,000 goal for this year’s race Nov. 5 at Dalton Elementary & Middle School.
“It is definitely bittersweet this year,” wrote Chrissy Fratena in an email.
Fratena began the November race as a tribute to her brother, Rich, who was known for his generous heart and his love of hunting, fishing and the fall season. He died from leukemia in 2007 when he was only 36.
“We needed something to channel our grief into, to find a purpose for our suffering,” Fratena wrote at the end of the registration page. “Over the past 15 years we have done just that. We have been able to bless so many families who have had a blood cancer. We have helped the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with funding research. And we have loved doing this. It has been healing for all of us. Keeping Rich’s memory alive and helping others has been priceless.”
Fratena wrote that it’s time to change gears.
“We have poured our own blood, sweat, and tears into this race,” she wrote. “Some people thought I was crazy to set huge goals of getting over 1,000 participants (did it many times) and raising over $20k in one year (did it and have kept doing it!). … We have so many wonderful volunteers who help on race day/week and we appreciate them so very much!! The main race committee consists of just my parents, my husband, and myself. We fundraise, market, promote, and race direct. There’s a lot of stress involved in directing a high-class race. Most other races have committees for each one of these areas (and/or it’s a full-time company). We have sacrificed to bring something special to the runners AND to the charity. And we have absolutely loved it. However, we are entering a new phase in life. My parents are getting older, my kids are getting older, and our priorities are changing. This decision has not come lightly and has, in fact, been one that we have prayerfully considered for several years now. We have always felt we could do “just one more year.” But at this milestone, the 15th year, we feel that this is the time to retire the race.”
The registration page and more information is available at https://runsignup.com/Race/OH/Dalton/RichDalessandroMemorial . Updates about the event are also available on Facebook.
Fratena said they are putting a cap on participants like they did last year.
“We are limiting the participants, mainly due to having to order things like medals and shirts months ahead and not wanting to risk over-ordering and losing money for the charity,” Fratena wrote.” So, the race will sell out and it will sell out quickly. I predict it will sell out by the first of October, as most people will sign up by the shirt deadline and price increase which is Sept. 30. We are currently about two-thirds full.”
Fratena wrote that they are happy to be back in the Dalton Middle School gymnasium this year and participants can expect the health expo again, which they have not been able to have since 2019 because of the pandemic. Tom Turkey will return for the free kids’ fun run, she wrote.
“I would like to raise at least $20,000 this year and we need all the help we can get,” Fratena said in the email. “Folks can help by signing up to run or walk, and they can also help by donating, which can be done online at the registration link, or by mailing a check payable to Rich Dalessandro Memorial to PO Box 254, Dalton OH 44618.”
Fratena said she needs to look through the records to confirm exactly how much has been raised over the past 15 years but she thinks it’s close to the $200,000 overall mark.
“If we can hit that milestone before we retire, that would be amazing,” she said.