BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
A large crowd of friends and neighbors gathered under sunny blue skies on a chilly Friday morning for the Jessie Schenk Memorial 5K Turkey Chase on the Catawba Island Club Golf Course. Kevin Donnelly came from a long way to pay homage to his cross country racing buddy, and made the most of the trip.
Donnelly, 34, a 2007 graduate of Port Clinton High School and a member of the school’s cross country teams with Jessica Schenk, who passed unexpectedly at 19. He remembers his old friend well as a vibrant, happy young lady with a goal of becoming a physical education teacher.
“Jessie was always so positive, and a friend to so many,” said Donnelly, now a software engineer for a Chicago firm. “Because of my love of running, I still enjoy running marathons, and wouldn’t have missed the Jessie Schenk 5K Turkey Chase.”
Donnelly was not only the first out of the starting gate following young pace setter Kacie Piacentino, who was adorned with a turkey hat and adorable tutu, but was easily the first to cross the finish line. He covered the 5K run around the Catawba Island Golf Course in 18 minutes and 37 seconds.
The top female runner (22:51) was the pace setter Piacentino, of Catawba Island, whose sister, Kayla, was a friend of Jessie Schenk. Logan Fry was second in the men’s division in 18:53.
With a long list of sponsors and a crowd of runners, the Jessie Schenk Turkey Chase was a social and financial success. Hosts Mike and Ginger Schenk announced afterward that 10 $2,000 scholarships for Port Clinton High School students will be funded by the race, and they hoped that that number would grow to 15 scholarships in the near future.