Columbine High School and the surrounding community took to the pavement again Saturday for the eighth annual Run for Remembrance through Clement Park.
The 5K run/walk raised money for Craig Hospital, the Columbine Memorial and the Frank DeAngelis Columbine High School Academic Foundation.
Yet the main goal of the event isn’t to raise money for charity — it’s to honor the memories of those lost on April 20, 1999, and to thank a community that supported the high school throughout that trying time, said Karen Jones, principal’s secretary at Columbine High.
“This is a way to give back to the community after they gave us so much support after the Columbine tragedy,” Jones said. “It shows we remember the people that we lost, but also it’s a way to celebrate our community.”
Many of the race participants were current or past students at Columbine. While Jones said current students were just babies when the shootings occurred, they live with the stigma of that tragedy anytime they mention where they go to school.
“It’s like a stigma we can’t shake,” Jones said. “There’s so much good here. It’s a shame that that’s the first thing on people’s mind.”
It’s something that junior Taylor Dugdale and sophomore Chelsee Sandoval said they deal with. Both volunteered at the race this year.
Yet the most significant result of the tragedy, they said, was the bonds formed in the community in the wake of the shootings.
“We’ve grown so much in the last 14 years,” Dugdale said. “You will not find a bigger community.”
“I think it’s made Columbine grow. We’re really a big family,” Sandoval said.
Race participants echoed those sentiments, saying a feeling of family exists among members of the surrounding community and the school.
Rick Sheehan, whose three children graduated from Columbine over the last four years, said the race was a chance to celebrate the memory of those lost and the community as a whole.
“It’s exactly what the title of the race says: to remember the tragedy but also the hope and beauty of life. To savor every moment of that life,” Sheehan said.