Viva La Vida, or Live the Life, was something Lucas Pfander embodied. On Saturday, August 15, more than 150 members of the CJ community kept Lucas’ memory alive by participating in the eighth annual Lucas Pfander Memorial Alumni Race.
“You would think over an eight year period, the further you get away from it, the interest may go down, but it hasn’t. For us, that’s heartwarming,” said Greg Pfander, Lucas’ father.
“I think the entire Viva La Vida phrase says a lot about living your life, and living your life to the fullest,” Matt Allaire ’16, a member of the current CJ men’s cross country team, concurred. “Doing things for each other, and helping us remember what life is about.”
Lucas passed away on July 11, 2008. Many of the current CJ students who ran in Saturday's race never met Lucas. However, they said this event, and Lucas’ memory, is something they will keep with them well after graduation.
“It’s good to see everyone in the community united for a cause,” shared Matt Weckesser ‘16. “Students from a lot of different sports participated in the race and it’s good to see them come together for this one event.”
Weckesser was this year’s recipient of the Lucas Pfander Scholarship. The scholarship is given to a CJ senior who exemplifies the traits of Lucas. While at CJ, Lucas displayed academic excellence, had perfect attendance, completed 150 hours of community service beyond his required hours, and competed in a sport every season (cross country, swimming and volleyball.)
Helen Wittman ’15, who was awarded the scholarship last year, participated in the race all four years when she was a CJ student and also ran in the race this year.
“Lucas went to the same grade school as me,” Wittman explained. “He was also my bus buddy when I was kindergarten. So knowing him and then being awarded the scholarship was a special connection.”
Several alumni returned to CJ to participate in the race. CJ alumni who are now in Washington, D.C. also organized a group to run a virtual race on Saturday. The virtual race allowed anyone around the world to take part in the event.
Seeing the continued support of the CJ community was something the Pfander family said makes this race encouraging.
“It’s our faith, our family and our friends who keep us doing this,” Greg Pfander said.
“Keep your faith and stay active,” Daisy Pfander agreed. “Lucas wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
Before the race, the Pfander family shared a memory of Lucas and his appearance on the Tonight Show. Lucas wrote an email to the program about his talent of hopping on a pogo stick and jumping rope at the same time. The talent was something the Pfanders did not necessarily know would be showcased on national television.
“But you don’t know unless you ask, and you don’t know unless you try,” Greg Pfander explained. “If you do that, you’ll be a winner in anything you do.”
The Lucas Pfander Memorial Alumni Race consisted of a 1-mile elementary student run/walk and a two-mile adult run. The top place finishers were:
- William Dannemiller
- Carolyn Marshall
2-mile run (Men’s top 5)
- Jack Dalton
- Nate Sink
- Duncan Burke
- Mike Carper
- Cody Potts
2-mile run (Women’s top 5)
- Lizzie Gleason
- Helen Wittman
- Maura Peck
- Rachel Coughlin
- Kathryn Marshall
Click here to see more photos from this year's event.