By ANTHONY SPAULDING
Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School
SPARTA — There is only one way to describe the 5K Spirit Run that takes place annually at Pope John XXIII Regional High School.
“A family affair,” Pope John XXIII Regional High School cross country/track and field head coach Brian Corcoran said.
For 10 years, the 5K Spirit Run has been a hallmark event for families, friends, Pope John alumni, students and faculty/staff members to compete, attend and reunite as one family. During last Saturday’s edition of the event, 135 people not only got to run in the Spirit Run and Fun Run (a 100-meter run for children ages 4 and under through 8 years old), but also enjoy an atmosphere filled with camaraderie, tradition and pride.
“It’s been fantastic,” 5K Spirit Run event director Julia Campbell said. “There are some of the same runners, people, alumni and volunteers that come here year after year. It incorporates the entire Catholic Academy of Sussex County and it is great community event. It’s been wonderful.”
The Spirit Run started as a way to raise money for the Pope John cross country and track and field programs. While that is still one of the main purposes of the event, Campbell said the Spirit run was a way to bring together all three Academy schools — Pope John High School, Pope John XXIII Middle School and Reverend George A. Brown Memorial School — plus Pope John alumni and those in the community at large.
“We were looking for a community event that was very inclusive,” Campbell said. “We felt this was the best way to do that.”
On Saturday, there was a ton of pride, fun, competition and familiar faces running or walking around the track and grounds of Pope John.
In the Spirit Run, the first three finishers were all Pope John alumni, as 2004 graduate Justin Scheid, 2007 graduate Jeremy Scheid and 2005 graduate William “Billy” Washer crossed the finish line ahead of the pack just like they used to do when they were former Lions. In addition, the race featured alums from all different eras, such as 1989 graduate Seamus Campbell, 2001 graduate George Peterson, and 2011 graduate Nicole DiGiacinto.
For Peterson and DiGiacinto, they were so happy to see the strong bond that exists at Pope John, especially with the cross country and track and field teams.
“It’s amazing to see the community that has been built here,” Peterson said. “It’s nice seeing my first track coach, Mr. Setlock, and those who I ran with when I was here. It’s great.”
“It’s really great to be back,” DiGiacinto said. “It feels like I have never left. It’s great to give back to the community and it’s nice to have that familiarity when you come back to an event like this. We still have that strong, family connection to Pope John.”
This family connection is something that will always live on through this event.
“This is why you do it,” Corcoran said. “You get that feel from the people who helped establish our school and our programs down to the middle school and Reverend Brown families who are the future of the place. It’s great to be a part of.”