Runners host 5K in memory of Gonzales and Orlowski
The Tecumseh community continues to provide support to the Gonzales and Orlowski families after the deaths of their sons, Dakota and Curt, in an automobile accident last month. Students on the high school track and cross-country teams were very saddened at the loss of former teammate Gonzales, and have organized a 5K run on August 16 to raise money for the boys’ memorial scholarship.In addition to the accolades earned by both boys on the Tecumseh soccer team, Gonzales was a standout track student for the school.“Dakota was one of my best runners on the track team,” said coach Eddy Foley. “The kids on the team came to me and wanted to do something. The memorial 5K was something they could put their energy into.”“I’m really excited about the 5K because Dakota really loved running, both with the team and with his dad,” Michelle Gonzales, Dakota’s mother, said.One of the last activities the father and son enjoyed together before Gonzales’ death was The Color Run in Ypsilanti on June 21. Vince is planning on running the memorial 5K on August 16, and the other members of the Gonzales and Orlowski families will also be in attendance.Michelle is glad Gonzales’ friends and teammates have found an outlet to help with their grief. “I’m just so grateful for the community,” said Michelle. She knows the accident has been devastating, and appreciates the support the community has provided to the families even while grieving for the loss of the young men.The Run for Dakota and Curt will follow the Tecumseh cross-country course with one change. Knowing how important soccer was to Gonzales and Orlowski, the run will finish on the soccer field. “We’re going to finish on their field,” Foley said.There is no preregistration for the race. Participants will register at 8 a.m. and the race begins at 9 a.m. Cost for the run is $20, all of which goes to the scholarship fund set up by the Gonzales and Orlowski families.Memorial T-shirts will also be available for purchase the day of the race. Stitch Wizard in Tecumseh is providing the T-shirts at cost, and Foley expects the shirts will be around $20, with 100 percent of the profit going to the scholarship fund.Foley and his students wanted the run to be as affordable as possible for members of the Tecumseh community. There will be no official timing, scoring or awards, so the entrance fee can be donated completely to the scholarship fund.“We wanted to keep the cost as low as possible,” Foley said. Runners can see their run time on a clock posted at the finish line.Gonzales former teammates will be working the race on August 16, guiding runners through the course, making sure the areas of the run are blocked off, and monitoring the finish line. Although many people are competitive about 5K races, Foley hopes everyone will just come out and have a good time, helping the teams raise money.“This is a fun run/walk,” he said. “If you want to race it, you can, or you can walk the course, or just come out and donate and watch the participants.”After receiving so much financial support from the community, the families decided to start a memorial scholarship for their sons. For the Gonzales family, a scholarship was the perfect legacy for Dakota.Before he started his studies at Cornerstone University, Gonzales received nine scholarships to help make college a financial reality. The cost almost kept him from continuing his education, but Michelle said the family insisted Gonzales follow his dreams.The number of scholarships he received was a pleasant surprise to Gonzales and his family. “Dakota was all about paying it forward,” said Michelle. “We said, as soon as you graduate from college, we’re going to set up a scholarship for other students. He was totally on board with the idea. We had discussed all of this before the accident.”The run has been up on the cross-country Facebook page, and Foley is hoping continued support from the community for the Gonzales and Orlowski families.“We’re hopeful it’s going to be a good turnout,” he said. “We live in an awesome community, and I have no doubt this place is going to be packed. I’m glad the kids came up with this idea. I can hardly wait to turn the money over to both families for such a great cause.”The families continue to be comforted by the support of the community. “Thank you is not enough,” said Michelle. “There are not enough words to express how we truly feel. We were just discussing this the other night. I wish there were better words to express our feelings.”For more information on the Run for Dakota and Curt, visit the Tecumseh Cross Country Facebook page, or call the high school at 423.6008.