Rain and chilly temperatures didn’t deter Dearborn Public Schools students, parents and staff from participating in the second annual Robert Cipriano Cross Country Meet.
More than 800 students were cheered on as they ran through the finish line of one- and two- mile races on a soggy Saturday morning at Ford Field Park in Dearborn for the event that honors the district’s director of business services, who died April 2012 in an attack.
“Bob was a great innovator,” said Brian Whiston, Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent. “He had the philosophy that mind, body spirit were all a part of a student’s education and we are celebrating that in honor of his passion today.”
Nearly a dozen faculty members kicked off a one mile-race to pay tribute to their colleague before turning the course over to students like 9-year-old Desmond Karssen, a Whitmore-Bolles Elementary School student, who had been training in the first weeks of school to get in shape and qualify for the event.
“It’s good to get the kids out here, because it’s all about being healthy,” Latisha Karssen said.
The kids, who ran through the rain, puddles and muddy grounds with the cheering section of parents and staff, competed in ten different races grouped by age and gender. Afterward, all runners will receive a ribbon and medals will be awarded for the top ten runners. The best elementary and middle school team will also earn a plaque.
The races are expected to wrap up about 1 p.m.
The event was planned by Cipriano one week prior to his death, according to school officials. His brother Mike Cipriano said Robert Cipriano became an avid runner in high school and the two used to participate in a similar event called the “Turkey Trot” at their high school.
“I think he would be both humbled and embarrassed to see his name on a banner (for the event),” Mike Cipriano said jokingly. “It’s an honor, but he would say it’s all about the kids learning about good health and keeping in shape.”
Police say Robert Cipriano’s son Tucker Cipriano and Mitchell Young attacked him, his wife and other son with a baseball bat. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment in June for their roles in the beating.