First Responders 5K Takes Another Lap

The first winner of the day was 9-year-old Ryan Dyazko of Pack 204 who outpaced the other runners in his age category during the 4th Annual Eagle First Responders 5K Run held at Johnson Park. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  JACKSON – The 4th Annual Eagle First Responders 5K returned to Johnson Park with runners of all ages who came from across the state.

  Participants were able to register on-site at Johnson Park for the 5K ($40) or Kid’s Dash ($10) on the day of the race.

  The event started years ago when Gavin Kohute developed it for his Eagle Scout project to benefit first responders. Since that time, it has become a township tradition.

  He earned his Eagle Scout rank early (before he was 16 years old), and is now a freshman in college.  He couldn’t be present this year as he is attending Syracuse University where he is majoring in environmental engineering.

   “I am very grateful to have the troop continue my legacy through the race and love to see the troop supporting our first responders,” he told The Jackson Times.

  All proceeds benefited Scouts BSA Troops 204 and 402, Jackson Mills Fire Company Station 54, and Jackson PBA 168.

Runners gathered at the starting line at Johnson Park. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “It is Scouts BSA which is under the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts BSA has male troops and female troops. We work together instead of having a boy troop or just a girl troop. Troop 204 is the boys and Troop 402 is the girls,” Scout leader John Juchniewicz said.

   “We have scouts running. We have scouts helping run the event and once the run starts, we put them at strategic places to cheer people on. We have 29 scouts from 204 and 402 has eight,” he added.

  12th District Assemblyman Alex Sauickie returned to serve as master of ceremonies of the event. His son previously ran in the event and this year his father came out to watch.

  Juchniewicz said around 75 runners had registered for the 5-kilometer run. “Pre-reg was around 60 and we always have people showing up the day of and we got at least 15 more. We have the police department and police explorers here and they are great supporters of this as well.”

  Another mainstay of the event is Viper Timing of Howell Township and the company’s owner and operator Maurice Bell.

  “It is awesome with their being here because having a couple of cones is not the same thing. He donates his time to this race,” Juchniewicz added. “This race is certified so if people are running a marathon, you have to be certified. It just worked out that this was the same weekend as the New York Marathon.”

Members of Boy Scout Troop 204 and 402 gather by the starting line of the run. The Scouts assisted with the running of this year’s Eagle First Responders 5K Run. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Station 54 firefighter Ralph Aponte noted that “we are the charter organization (for the scout troops) along with the Cub Scout Pack 204. I am the charter rep between the troop and fire department. As far as the fire company goes, we try and show support. They are here helping with the event.”

  “With this Eagle Scout 5 K run, the money that comes in, the portion donated to our firehouse is used for scholarships. Every year we have a scholarship that is given out to students, usually three or four.”

  “Usually, it is for a child whose parent is a first responder here in Jackson. The last few years it has been students who were graduating from (Jackson) Memorial and Liberty (High School),” Former Scout Master Chris Burgess said.

  “We try to keep the community involved. The kids (Scouts) meet at the firehouse,” Burgess said. He noted that on November 11, an event called Turkey Fest was held where turkeys are cooked in brand new tin garbage cans.

  Burgess explained, “they (volunteers) do over 250 pounds of turkeys and serve them to all the first responders of Jackson along with others. 

Jackson Boy Scouts and members of the Jackson School District ROTC program present the colors for the 4th Annual Eagle First Responders 5 Kilometer Run held at Johnson Park. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “They are meeting at Station 54. They put aluminum foil on the ground and they use a horseshoe stake and surround it with charcoal and balls of foil and they put the turkey on that and a can over it and surround the ground with the charcoal and they cook it like that and it is delicious,” Aponte said.

  Burgess’s 17-year-old daughter Kaiya was at the event having recently worked on her Eagle Scout project. “I did a trail cleanup from an unusable trail off Don Connor Boulevard and I added an element of whimsical creatures with gnomes. It was full of bushes and stuff and we added a picnic table,” she said.

12th District Assemblyman Alex Sauickie welcomes the crowd and the runners as master of ceremonies. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Members of the Jackson High School Air Force ROTC took part in the presentation of colors along with the Boy Scouts that proceeded the start of the race. Resident Tina Wendel sang the Star-Spangled Banner.

  A children’s dash event was held prior to the 5K run and the first winner of the day was 9-year-old Ryan Dyazko of Pack 204.