On Sunday, April 14, the McKenna 5k Committee — a subcommittee of Binghamton University Rowing Club — will be hosting their annual John J. McKenna IV Memorial 5k. This race honors John J. McKenna, a BU alum who passed as he was serving as a United States Marine. The McKenna 5k committee has been hosting this event for 17 years, allowing the Binghamton community and alumni to come together in McKenna’s memory.

Catherine Strong, finance chair of the McKenna 5k committee and a freshman majoring in biology, highlighted the significance of this event and the meaning behind the John J. McKenna 5k.

“The 5k is about remembering [McKenna] as a person and what he represents,” Strong wrote. “[McKenna] was a rower and soldier who always put 110 [percent] into everything he did. His passion for rowing and serving his community is something everyone should strive to achieve.”

The John J. McKenna IV Memorial 5K aims to fundraise for Captain John J. McKenna IV Military Courtesy Room at the Albany International Airport, in addition to ensuring that the BU Rowing Club is able to hold the annual race going into the future.

Kayla Opalecky, coordination chair of the McKenna 5k committee and a senior double-majoring in English and biology, explained the hard work and preparation that went into planning the 5k. Event preparation began in August and involved reaching out to local businesses and corporations, such as Wegmans, for sponsorships.

“The University’s own dining services are donating bananas and water for the runners once they complete the race, and the alumni organization is supporting us as well,” Opalecky wrote in an email. “Total preparation takes anywhere from seven to eight months depending on what date is chosen that year. We appreciate and would like to thank everyone that supports this event year after year making it possible for us to remember [McKenna] and everything he stood for.”

The John J. McKenna 5k is a very important event for the BU Rowing Club that has a much deeper meaning than just hosting an annual 5k race. During his time at BU, McKenna served as the Varsity Men’s Captain of the Binghamton Rowing Club.

Natalie Pan, the public relations chair of the McKenna 5k committee and a junior double-majoring in history and philosophy, politics and law, further elaborated on the significance of this event.

“[McKenna had] been such an integral part of the Binghamton Rowing Club … that the club decided to honor his legacy by creating a fundraiser 5k,” Pan wrote. “[He] was an extremely accomplished alumni of [BU], and he was a student and rower, just like us. Our constant communication with the McKenna family, especially his father, makes the race all the more relevant, and the dedication of our committee [is] why this race continues to be held year after year.”

The John J. McKenna 5k is an event that hundreds of people attend every year. Not only do BU students, alumni and members of the Binghamton community participate, but people travel from around the northeast to be a part of the event.

Opalecky expressed her hopes for the participants of the John J. McKenna 5k and what those who signed up for the event can expect.

“I hope [the participants] gain a deeper appreciation for the United States Military being that John served as a United States Marine for three tours,” Opalecky wrote. “Mr. McKenna, [John’s father], speaks at the race every year to tell us stories about [McKenna] and his time while part of the Rowing Club, as well as his time in the Marines. I hope it gives participants a greater sense of togetherness when they see how many people support this event and its cause. We strive for this event to connect the on-campus community with the rest of Binghamton to show that no matter where you are from, you can come together when it matters.”

The 5k will kick off at 10:15 a.m. at Recreation Park. The race offers a student and military discount and requires a charge of $20 for all other participants. Anyone looking to participate in this event can sign up until the morning of the race.