By Amanda Tonoli
Runners will gather to honor fallen athlete Caitlin Yager of Canfield in an 8K fundraising race kicking off at 9 a.m. Saturday at Canfield High School on Cardinal Drive.
The third annual Run for Caitlin race, suited more for a college level of difficulty, is one the Yager family refers to as “the race designed by runners.”
In addition to the challenging 8K, a 3K option is available for joggers and walkers to join the cause as well.
Maria Delost, family friend and mother of Mike and Greg Delost who helped start Run for Caitlin, said the running community likes the 8K race because it is more challenging than others – mostly 5K races – in the area.
“It helps prepare them for bigger races coming,” she said.
Run for Caitlin got its start in 2013, after Matthew Yager’s sister died as the result of a car accident.
Caitlin Yager, a 2012 Cardinal Mooney High School graduate and Marietta College student, ran cross country and track in high school and college, favoring the sport above all others.
Although running was Caitlin’s favorite sport, she had an unconventional start with it, said Richard Yager, Caitlin’s father.
“She went to go run in eighth grade and said, ‘Oh no this is stupid,’” he said. “Well, her brother [Matthew] had taken her and said, ‘Oh no. You’re going to run because I’m not driving you home.’ And it just continued from there. She wouldn’t quit.”
Matthew wasn’t just the push behind Caitlin’s running career, but also the push behind the run in her honor.
Matthew and the Delost brothers came up with the idea to raise money in some form for their fallen fellow runner.
“The boys are all runners, and they said, ‘Hey, what will it take to get a bench in Mill Creek [with Caitlin’s name on it],’” said Carol Yager, Caitlin’s mother.
From there, the Yager and Delost families worked together to establish the Run for Caitlin nonprofit, and have raised more than $21,000 toward scholarships for Cardinal Mooney High School students.
The Yagers said they enjoy being able to give the scholarships to students to allow them the opportunities their daughter had, which the students might not have otherwise.
Not only was Caitlin a high-school and college athlete, but she also was the recruiting chairwoman of Sigma Kappa Sorority, a tour guide for Marietta, a U.S. representative with Faith to Faith, Face to Face, and the founder of an interfaith chapter at Marietta.
In 2015, Run for Caitlin donated six $1,500 scholarships to students going to Mooney. This year, there will be eight of the same amount going to Elise Armile of Holy Family School; Olivia DeSantis of St. Nicholas School; Anna Mshar of St. Christine School; Andrew Neider of St. Nicholas; Caitlyn Sapp of St. Christine; Michael Phillips of St. Charles School; Jake Weber of St. Charles; and Maeghan Williams of Holy Family.
Carol Yager said the local support her family has received is one of the driving forces behind her need to give back.
“We couldn’t do it without everybody,” she said.
Local support isn’t all the Yager family receives – families from all over reach out and do virtual runs. They sign up and do the run from elsewhere, to support the cause.
“We’ve gotten lots of local support, and we are really blessed for what the community does for us,” Maria Delost said.
To register for the race or for information, visit runforcaitlin.org.
Last-minute registration will take place at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Canfield High School. Registration for the 3K race costs $10, and the 8K race costs $20. Shirts are an additional $15.