Over the last three years, runners across Adams County wore RIFT bracelets as they pounded out mileage in honor of one of their greatest inspirations. This summer, runners will have a chance to Run It For Tommy again at the Tommy Laudani Delone Dash.
Tommy Laudani was a Delone Catholic high school graduate who died last autumn after a courageous two-year battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer called Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumors (DSRCT).
Though his muscles were diminished and he experienced pain, Laudani continued to participate in cross country, galvanizing several local high school athletes in awe of his determination. He died Nov. 15, 2018 at the age of 18.
At 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 1, the Squire cross country team will hold the Dash at their home course at Codorus State Park Marina in Hanover in honor of their fallen friend. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Runners are encouraged to sign up in advance.
“He loved the state park,” Tommy’s mother, Rosemary Laudani said. “He loved to run where it was beautiful. The kids went there on days off to swim in the water. They loved to go and hang out.”
The top three 5k finishers for each gender will receive prizes and medals will be distributed to the top three finishers in five age groups.
The profits from the events will be divided among three groups. Twenty percent will fund Delone Catholic cross country camp, twenty percent will fund the Delone Catholic Athletic Association and the remaining sixty percent will go toward The Tommy Laudani Accepting the Challenge of Excellence Award, a scholarship bestowed by the The Exchange Club of Hanover.
Tommy had been granted the scholarship for his bravery in the face of his cancer last year. Because he was unable to attend Frederick Community College before he passed, Rosemary and her husband Bob Laudani returned the funds.
“We wanted it to go back so it could be used by other kids. We want to see this scholarship continue,” Rosemary said. “It’s a great honor for kids who are struggling physically, emotionally or mentally and helps them pursue an education despite their hardships.”
Delone cross country coach R.C. Zinn said the number of sponsors has grown since last year’s race, but they are still searching for more runners. The cost for those who register before May 17 is $25. Those that register after must pay $30. The cost includes a shirt, a raffle entry and a goodies bag.
Zinn is excited to show off Delone’s course while honoring Tommy, an athlete he became great friends with before he passed. During practices, the team frequently stops at the Passenger Pigeon Memorial to give thanks for the opportunity to run on such a beautiful course, he said.
“The best part of the course is where it overlooks the marina and the lake from the peninsula,” Zinn added.
Those who would like to register online can visit: https://runsignup.com/Race/PA/Hanover/TommyLaudaniDeloneDash.
Every day, the Delone Catholic track and field team has an opportunity to remember Tommy during their workouts.
On March 29, Tommy’s former employer, Freedom Landscapes of Gettysburg owner Brett Johnson, donated an American Elm Tree that was planted by the visitors’ entrance of J.T. Flaherty field on Delone Avenue.
The family was moved by the 50 or so friends and faculty members that joined them for prayer and a blessing that afternoon.
“We continue to be impressed by the community’s ongoing support,” Rosemary said. “We’re thrilled that everyone is remembering Tommy so vividly. We know all of his friends and classmates his age still struggle with his death.”
Tommy was cremated after his death. His remains are stored at Mount Saint Mary’s Cemetery in the Seton Columbarium. The location, at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on Mount Saint Mary’s campus is a perfect resting place, Rosemary said.
“He’s above ground and it’s very special because he’s near the woods,” she said. “You can see the trees and nature and those are the things he loved. It seems appropriate that he’s up on a mountain in such a beautiful spot.”