BRONXVILLE, N.Y. Every year, Helen Welling looks forward to Thanksgiving, but it's not because of the food or even familial fellowship.
Welling and her husband Tom watch as hundreds of Bronxville residents come out to participate in the annual walk/run in memory of their daughter Katie, who graduated from Bronxville High School in 2002 and perished in a fire at the age of 21. For the last 5 years, the community comes out on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving for a 2.5 mile walk/ run to honor Katie. The proceeds of the run are donated to the Bronxville School Foundation
"Katie was an incredible young woman," said an emotional Helen Welling. "It gives me such comfort to see that Kate will never be forgotten." Katie Welling perished in an off-campus fire while attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in April 2005. Olivia Cassin and Maureen Stapleton were on the track team at Bronxville High School with Katie .
At the race on this Saturrday, Cassin said she has so many memories of Katie who she first met in kindergarten. "What I want everyone to know about Katie is that she was a loyal person, a very positive person, a great person to be around," Cassin said.
Helen Welling said that most days she copes with the loss of her daughter, but points to the love and support she received from the community and the strength of her husband.
Tom Welling said he still finds it hard to speak about his daughter but credits the support their family from the community as one of the reasons he was able to deal with the profound loss. "This has been a tough storm to weather," he said. "But the support we got , literally from the first day to today, six and a half years later is so needed and so appreciated.
Just before the race began the Wellings found out that in the five years since it started, it has raised $90,000 for the Bronxville School Foundation, and which has in turn funded close to 100 different school projects or activities.
Tom Welling addressed the residents who came out to support and participate in the race, including Mayor Mary Marvin. "This even today and every year is a living, breathing tribute to the spirit of Katie," Tom Welling told the crowd. "Please keep her in your hearts and minds forever."
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