HALFMOON — What started as a way for Olya Prevo-White to share the memory of her son Sasha six years ago grew this year into a community event to help those in her native home country of Ukraine.
Sunday marked the sixth annual Sasha’s Superhero Run 5K run/walk, conducted in memory of Prevo-White’s 3.5-week-old son who died in his sleep due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome [SIDS] on Christmas Eve 2016.
“Clearly, we love honoring our son, but it’s become way more than my son over the years,” said Prevo-White, a Mechanicville resident. “It’s a gathering point for people that lost another child.”
This year’s event raised more than $30,000, Prevo-White said, with the proceeds this year being donated internationally. The funds be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities Global and to Okhmatdyt, a children’s hospital in Kyiv.
More than 200 runners, several wearing superhero-themed outfits, participated at the Town of Halfmoon Park with 16-year-old Anya Belisle of Saratoga Springs taking top honors with her 19-minute time. James Kehoe of Gansevoort was the top male finisher at 19:33. Once the 5K was complete, the event was turned over to the children for a 100-yard fun run, followed by quarter-mile fun run.
[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”72″ display=”basic_imagebrowser”]The morning concluded with a memorial ceremony to honor children who have died at an early age.
“For many, it’s an opportunity to say their name outside of their family,” Prevo-White said. “The further you are from the moment when your child dies, the less of an opportunity you have to say their name.
“We don’t grieve well in our culture. It’s hard, it’s heartbreaking — but we just move on. This is an opportunity for people to share their grief, their search for lightness, but to celebrate the spirit that people have when they go on despite the most awful circumstances.”
While this year’s proceeds were donated to causes meant to help the Ukrainian people, proceeds from previous Sasha’s Superhero Run events were donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region, totaling more than $54,000.
Prevo-White came to the United States 20 years ago from Ukraine.
“All of my family lived in Ukraine two months ago,” Prevo-White said. “Some of them have fled Ukraine, scattered all over Europe,” she said. “I have family still in Ukraine; my brother, my dad, my aunt, older people. It’s tough for anybody to search for a new place.”
Sunday was Prevo-White’s way of reaching out to others — locally and overseas.
“We grieve in different ways,” she said. “The way I grieved was to put all my energy into organizing this run.”
Further donations may be made at www.sashasrun.com.