By Jill Fox
After a gunman stole the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman High School on February 14, the family of Chris Hixon wanted to do something positive to remember him while making a difference in the community.
Chris was the school’s athletic director who sped towards the gunfire in a golf cart and was gunned down while trying to stop the shooter. Despite his wounds, he stood guard until police arrived.
Chris’ wife, Debra and her sons, Corey, 23, and Tom, 26, tried to figure out a way to encompass who Chris was, raise money, and bring awareness to what happened on that day. They decided to start a scholarship fund because people were reaching out, wanting to do something, and the Hixons felt that the money should to go to a positive place. They also created the Chris Hixon Memorial 5k to honor his memory.
Debra believed the 5k would be a fun and positive way to raise money for the scholarship fund. In addition, the Hixon’s younger son, Corey has special needs, and Chris wanted them to be able to run a 5k together as Corey was training with him before his death. His son’s trainer suggested that they set up a 5k to raise money for the scholarships.
All proceeds from the 5k will support the Chris Hixon Athletic Scholarship Foundation, where scholarships are awarded to three students from the three schools where Hixon worked during his more than 20-year career with Broward County Public Schools: Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, South Broward High School in Hollywood and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where Hixon was not only the athletic director, he was a coach and a campus monitor.
To become eligible, the recipients of the $2,500 awards must be scholar athletes, need to letter in a sport, have a 3.2 GPA and complete 250 volunteer hours.
The Hixon family chose to hold the 5k in Hollywood for a combination of different reasons: The family lives in Hollywood, and with so many activities going on in Coral Springs and Parkland, Debra felt that there weren’t many commemorative events being held in the southern part of the county.
“It’s a way for the south part of Broward County to commemorate and honor the victims right around the February 14 anniversary time,” said Debra.
There will be a celebration of life at the conclusion of the race, featuring local radio DJ Kenny Walker, the host of the couple’s favorite station, 102.7. Children can also participate in face-painting, a photo booth and more at the family friendly event.
Registration is $30 and includes a T-shirt, water bottle and goodie bag. Medals will be provided for all race finishers.
“We’d love to make this an annual event to remember Chris in a positive way,” said Debra. “But, it’s not just about him, it’s about moving the community forward, and I hope it’s something we can continue.”
For those who aren’t interested in participating in the 5k, volunteers are welcome and donations are being accepted at chrishixonathleticscholarship.com.
Debra said, “It’s been really humbling to see the community outpouring. He was a pretty special guy.”
The Chris Hixon Memorial Walk will take place on Saturday, February 16 at 8 a.m. in Hollywood at Charnow Park N Broadwalk and Connecticut Street. Registration ends on February 13. Register Here.
Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co., a leading full-service public relations firm. Fox worked as the Digital Marketing Manager for NBC Miami, and represented NBC Universal by acting as the Operations Manager for the South Florida Region of GE Women’s Network. A true Floridian, Fox grew up in Ormond Beach, Florida and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Advertising from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.