“After he died, I just had to keep going. I just put my feet on the floor every morning and did what I had to do,” said Debbie von Ronn about her son at the 11th Annual Kenneth von Ronn Memorial Scholarship 5K Run/Walk in Pine Bush.
Sgt. Kenneth von Ronn died in the line of duty in Iraq on January 6, 2005 and after a few years, his mother, and three sisters; Samantha Borman, Gina von Ronn and Courtney Lazar organized and held a memorial 5K in his honor. Over $45,000 have been raised and benefited numerous Pine Bush High School graduates.
“We award the scholarship after reading a stack of applications, based not only on need, but circumstance and an emotional connection – we know when our heart is pulled to the right person,” explained Borman. “The scholarship will continue even if this event ends. It keeps my brother’s memory alive.”
Everyone assembled in the Catholic War Veteran’s main room as Debbie von Ronn welcomed and thanked those who were participating, past recipients of the scholarship, and event sponsors. The family invited attendees to sing the National Anthem with them before Kenny Borman and his cousin Aiden Lazar led the Pledge of Allegiance. Samantha Borman spoke and led a moment of silence in remembrance of Steve Nicoli, founder of the Hudson Valley Honor Flight, who recently passed away.
Once the main event was underway, volunteers worked behind the scenes to set-up tricky tray baskets, a continental breakfast and raffle tickets for a 50/50 fundraiser and the von Ronn women were able to share a few thoughts.
About the 5K
“Every year we have had great weather during this event. Even if it was raining in the morning just before, when it was time for the walk, the skies cleared,” said Debbie.
“We had the course certified as an official 5K for the runners,” shared Gina.
“This is the last one though,” Debbie said, “It’s a lot.”
The sisters are open to the idea of taking some time away and revisiting the idea of an event in the future.
Martin Nowak was the first to return to the finish line.
The first female was Hannah Powlowski, a sophomore at Pine Bush High School and member of the track team.
Powlowski explained her main event is the 3,000 meter and hopes to attend Penn State with the goal of becoming a doctor, perhaps in pediatrics.
“He was a great jokester and loved a good prank,” Courtney said with a smile.
The sisters shared stories and examples of his humor that included scaring them by hiding out of sight at the top of the stairs then jumping out.
“A great way to keep his memory alive,” Gina said, “would be to keep paying it forward.”
“He is missed,” said his mom.