The fourth annual Lucas Pfander Memorial Alumni Race begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 13 at Triangle Park. Runners of all ages and levels are welcomed to take part in this free event during one of two races: a one-mile run for elementary school students, and a two-mile run/walk for adults and other guests.
The event was started in August 2008 by the CJ cross country team in conjunction with the Pfander family following the tragic death of their son Lucas Pfander, a CJ honors student and an Eagles three-sport athlete. Lucas passed away one month earlier during the summer before his senior year in an accidental drowning while vacationing with friends on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. The incident shook family members, friends and those in the CJ community both familiar and unfamiliar with the boy whose indefinable spirit now continues to live on.
“Cross country was one of the sports Lucas participated in so we couldn’t think of a better way to keep his memory alive than to do something annually like this in support of the scholarship named after him,” said Greg Pfander, Lucas’s father. Since 2010, the proceeds from the race have served to partly fund a yearly scholarship for CJ students. “It’s something that our family holds dear to our hearts.”
Lucas’s personality could be described as quirky, eccentric, goofy, friendly, silly and fun-loving. His vivacious attitude helped him accomplish more things by age 17 than most can lay claim to. He was a stand-out distance runner, swimmer and volleyball player; he was elected president of the National Honor society; he was a good Samaritan, who had completed more than 150 service hours in three years; he attained perfect attendance in high school, having not missed a single day (despite never wearing long pants); he was a multi-time winner of phone-in radio giveaway contests, carrying the mantra, “If you don’t try, you can’t win”; he was a pogo stick jump-roper, who once performed on stage at the Tonight Show with Jay Leno; and, Lucas Pfander was a caring friend loved by many.
Each May at the CJ Honors Awards, the Pfander family shares that love for their son by bestowing the Lucas Pfander Scholarship to a student, entering his or her senior year, who best personifies the characteristics which made Lucas so special. Criteria for the award include demonstrated excellence in the categories of academics, athletics, attendance and community service. Anna Roland was selected as the 2011 recipient.
“When Mrs. Pfander announced the winner at the assembly, she mentioned how appropriate it was that I happened to be wearing an orange skirt and orange earrings,” said Roland. Orange was Lucas’s favorite color.
In addition to the grant, Roland also received an orange bracelet inscribed with the title of Lucas’s favorite song, “Viva la Vida.” The color and the Coldplay hit have come to symbolize the memory of Lucas to those proud to wear the blue and green.
“Just hearing the students talk about him and all of the great things that he did made me realize how remarkable of a person he was, even though I never got the chance to know him,” said Roland, who has taken off her bracelet only once since the May 18 assembly. The senior involved with Student Council, National Honor Society, Key Club and the crew team said she feels honored and blessed to have won the scholarship, adding that when rowing at competitions, the bracelet serves as a reminder that, “there’s someone up there watching over me.”
You are invited to join Anna, the Pfander family and Chaminade Julienne High School at the race on Saturday. T-shirts will be sold with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting the Lucas Pfander Scholarship. Donations will also be accepted for the continued growth and support of the scholarship.
To make a donation to the Lucas Pfander Scholarship, contact the CJ Development Office at 461.3740 x232, or for more information regarding the race please email or call Greg Mueller, cross country coach, at 461.3740 x443.