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Buchtel alumni bringing back interclass run

12/12/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

Editor’s note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, this event has been rescheduled as two events in 2014 — currently set for April 11 and Nov. 26.

Shown is Sammy Grant’s yearbook photo.
Photo courtesy of John Lund
WEST AKRON — Buchtel High School’s Class of 1963 is reinstating a school tradition from when they were students by holding an interclass run. The group aims to restart the tradition in honor of a classmate who died at 19.

The event is the First Annual Sammy Grant Memorial Holiday Turkey Trot, set to take place the afternoon of Dec. 19.

John Lund, one of the organizers, said he hopes Buchtel Community Learning Center’s current ninth- through 12-grade students will participate in the 1.5-mile run on a course on city streets around the school. Students will not have to pay anything to participate in the race, and prizes will go to the top finishers, according to Lund. The run is only open to students.

The event is to honor Sammy Grant, who twice won similar races, prior to losing a leg to cancer in May 1963. Grant died in August 1964 after he jumped onto an iron fence from a third-story apartment window in attempt to escape a fire. At the time of his death, Grant was attending The University of Akron and had moved into the building at 27 N. Walnut St. just days before, according to event organizers.

Lund, a civil engineer who has been directing the Labor of Love Run at The Chapel for the past 30 years, said at a recent Class of 1963 reunion, alumni decided it was time to do something to honor Grant’s memory.

Lund said the interclass run probably started in the late 1930s.

“I don’t know when they stopped doing it,” he said. “Here we are 50 years later wanting to reinstate that.”

Fifty years ago, Grant’s prize was a 25-pound turkey. This year, top male and female overall winners will have the opportunity to each win $150. The top five male and female finishers for each grade also will win $10 Henry’s Acme gift cards.

As in 1963, members of the school’s cross country and track teams are excluded from winning awards.

State Sen. Tom Sawyer (D-District 28), another member of Buchtel’s Class of ’63, will be there, along with other alumni, said Lund. Some, like himself, plan to run alongside the students, Lund added.

Lund, who was on the school’s cross country team, said he met Grant during his senior year at Buchtel.

“What impressed me the most about his introduction to me was his warm and accepting greeting and smile,” recalled Lund, adding the two ate lunch together regularly. “The image of Sammy praying before our meals left a lifelong imprint on my heart.

“He was unpretentious, humble and gracious,” Lund added. “He was an encourager, truly a young man of character with whom anyone would be comfortable in his presence. ... It is those qualities of his character we wish to uphold as a model for the community of students at Buchtel with the inauguration of this annual event in honor of Sammy.”

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