By: Jill Fox
A few days after February 14, 2018, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Cross Country team decided to organize a group run to honor their high school teacher and coach, Scott Beigel, who died a hero in the Parkland shooting.
During the school shooting, Beigel was fatally shot outside his classroom door after holding it open for fleeing students when he went to lock it after ushering them inside. Kelsey Friend, one of his students, believes the killer bypassed the room, figuring no one was inside, when he saw Biegel lying by the door. Kelsey told ABC that Beigel saved her life.
Alyssa Fletcher, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the cross country co-captain said when the team found out about their coach’s death, they felt helpless. After some discussion, they decided to form a group run and make it a community event. The process, which was entirely student-run was coordinated in just two days.
Now, in its second year, Run 4 Beigel has become an official 5K with over 30 sponsors, and an opportunity to bring family and friends together.
“That feeling of coming together and raising money for unity is our goal,” said Fletcher, who organized both Parkland events with her teammates.
Last year, they used the hashtags #RunwithMSDXC and #Run4Beigel, and circulated a flyer on social media where it went viral. Last February, over 1,000 residents supported the students’ effort, including city officials and first responders.
“We had participants from all over the world: running clubs, parents and their kids, people from New York, Chile, and as far as South Africa held their own events using our hashtags,” said Fletcher.
“I think they ended up with a lot more people than they ever dreamed of,” said Beigel’s mother, Linda Schulman, who was invited to attend the run and said from that day forward, she has bonded with the cross-country team members.
“They honored my son, and we were a part of it. I don’t have enough words to explain what Scott’s cross country team means to me,” she said.
All funds raised from the Run 4 Beigel on March 10, will be donated to the Scott J. Beigel Memorial Fund, an organization created by his family to send underprivileged kids, who have been touched by gun violence, to summer camp.
“Scott loved camp. He had gone to sleep-away camp since he was seven-years-old and even became a teacher so he could still spend his summers there,” said Schulman.
The event will award the top three overall men and women as well as the top three for each age group. Runners who cannot attend are invited to run on their own and post a picture using the hashtags #Run4Beigel or #RunwithMSDXC.
Fletcher shared that Schulman has really become like a mom to the cross-country team.
“Whenever we see her, she brings a smile to our faces,” she said. Seeing how strong she is as a person just keeps us going.”
Schulman and her husband, Michael, who are from Dix Hills, New York will be in attendance. She said it is an amazing honor and she understands why her son loved these students.
“The cross country kids are such an amazing string from me to my son; it’s wonderful, I adore them,” she said.
Registration, including a race T-shirt is $35 for adults, $30 for children under 18 and $25 for Marjory Stoneman Douglas students with the coupon code MSD17.
You can register up until race day at Run4Beigel.
The Run 4 Beigel will take place on Sunday, March 10, at 8 a.m. at Pine Trails Park located at 10555 Trails End, in Parkland.
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 at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.