When a light rain let up and the sun came out on Saturday morning, just in time for the start of the sixth annual Christopher’s Run 5K in Southampton Village, race organizer Kendra Lesta wasn’t surprised.
“It was beautiful,” she said, when asked about the race conditions that day. “We always say that Christopher cleared the skies for us.”
Lesta was referring to her son Christopher Lesta, the race’s namesake, who died in December 2007, just a few months after he had started kindergarten. Christopher was born with Hunter Syndrome (or MPS II), a rare and untreatable genetic disorder caused by the body’s inability to produce certain necessary enzymes. Due to this inability, cells do not perform properly and cause progressive damage throughout the body, including a drastically shortened lifespan.
Christopher received an umbilical cord blood transplant at the Duke University Medical Center in 2005 and had been doing well, but in late 2007 he contracted an infection that spread to his heart and caused his death.
Christopher’s parents, Southampton residents Chuck and Kendra Lesta, created the Christopher’s Run 5K in 2008, and since its inception the race has donated funds to the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Duke University Medical Center. Donations go toward helping the children and families on the transplant unit that suffer from diseases like Hunter Syndrome. In 2010, the Lesta family made a commitment to donate $50,000 to that cause, and so far they’ve given $30,000 to Duke’s family support program.
Ms. Lesta did not have final numbers on how much money the race raised this year, because fundraising was still ongoing. There will be a Chinese auction and bake sale at the North Sea Community House on Saturday, June 15, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
More than 150 runners and walkers helped that effort in Southampton on Saturday in the race that started and finished at Agawam Park in the village.
Owen Dawson, 25, was first, in 17:12, followed by Shaun Roberts, 22 (17:19); Nick Berglin, 16 (17:51); Jason Hancock, 39 (17:54); Louis Ramirez, 25 (18:38); Colin Riendeau, 29 (18:40); and Tara Farrell, 34, who was the first female finisher, in 18:43.
Full results as well as more information on the race are at christophersrun.com.
Kendra Lesta said it has been gratifying for her to see the continued support of the community for the race that honors her son’s memory. She addressed the runners and walkers before the start of the race, holding her son, Matthew, who will turn 2 this month.
“Just seeing all the runners show up and support our run, it means so much to us,” she said on Monday.
Lesta added that she had received a lot of positive feedback in the days after the race, with people emailing her to tell her that the run “touched their hearts.” She said one runner told her that even though she’d never met Christopher, she loved him.
“He was like that,” Ms. Lesta said. “He touched people’s lives and always made them happy. That’s the way his personality was. With everything he went through, he always managed to smile and be happy.”