No announcement yet.

Memories of Brian's Run

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Memories of Brian's Run

    Memories of Brian's Run

    By Jessica McRorie, Staff Writer December 08, 2002

    DLN file photo
    Runners finish in the 1998 Brian's Run.

    When Larry Brandon started organizing Brian's Run in 1978, he set a goal of gathering 200 runners and raising $500.
    But he ended up having 2,000 runners and raising more than $20,000.

    Twenty-five years later, Brian's Run -- begun as a fund-raiser to help Brian Bratcher, a Henderson High football player who suffered a life-threatening spinal cord injury -- has raised more than $500,000.The money is now raised for individuals who need help with physical mobility, visual aids and communication.

    In addition, it has proved to be a tremendously popular yearly winter road race, drawing thousands of contestants from all skill levels to the streets of West Chester, East Bradford and West Goshen.

    Looking back at the first Brian's Run, Brandon said his strongest memory was watching Bratcher's arrival to the race.

    The ambulance he was riding in pulled up to the track and drove once around, he said. The stands were packed and the crowd was cheering and some were crying.

    It was the first day that Bratcher was allowed out of the hospital since his injury nearly three months before, said Brandon.

    "It was an enormous emotional experience for everyone involved, and we only intended to do it one time," he said.

    Dr. Robert Poole, who has raised funds for Brian's Run for several years, also remembers Bratcher's arrival.

    "I get upset thinking about it. It was a very moving moment," said Poole in a recent interview.

    Poole was the team physician for Henderson High School when Bratcher's injury occurred, he said.He was in charge of fund raising for Brian's Run and realized early on that organizers had underestimated the amount of money that could be raised.

    "People were very generousand the runners were very committed to the idea," he said.

    Aside from raising money and organizing parts of the race, Poole also participated in the first race.

    "It was, I guess, a revelation with the number of runners you could see ahead of you and behind you," he said. There were bands playing on street corners and the crowds along the race route were cheering and applauding, he said.

    Although he hasn't run for the past few years, Poole has participated in the race numerous times, he said.

    "My times were never great but I was always able to finish," he said.


    The most touching moment that occurred during the first Brian's Run involved a young man who finished dead last in the two-mile race, said Brandon.

    Mark D'Amico, 11, had lost one of his legs in a lawnmower accident and completed the race on a pair of crutches, said Landon.

    When D'Amico finished the race he went to Bratcher and held out his hand to shake hands but of course Bratcher couldn't move, he said.

    "Mark realized that and bent down and put his head down on Brian's chest," said Landon.

    That was a unique day, he said.

    "I am so delighted that it is a part of so many lives after 25 years..It's a dream come true," he said.

    Bill Stahl, a track and cross country coach in Colorado, has been running the race for years, he said. He has only missed it a handful of times in part due to four knee surgeries over the past six years.

    But some of those years he ran anyway because it was Brian's Run, he said.

    "I likely should not have been running," he said.

    Stahl first heard about the race when he covered the event for the University of Pennsylvania's student paper, the Daily Pennsylvanian. Since then, he has come back when he can to see Bratcher.

    "He always has a great attitude," said Stahl.

    Over the years, the event has maintained a grassroots feel and has remained a local race, even though it draws from a national base, he said.

    "I don't see how it has changed a lot in that respect," he said.

    Each year Stahl brings a runner from his cross country team to run in the race, he said. He also fund raises for Brian's Run during the year with races he holds in Colorado.

    It is a great community event that impresses him still today, he said.

    "I think it is because of that spirit. Brian planted the seed," he said.


    Bratcher's story has not only inspired individuals to run and fund raise for others, it has also inspired some to create.

    David Block, who is legally blind, filmed a 15-minute documentary simply entitled "Brian's Run."

    Block completed the film just before the race's 25th anniversary. In the film, he documents how Bratcher's accident causes the race to happen.The film includes interviews with Bratcher and his family in addition to event organizers like founder Brandon.

    When Brandon began organizing the race, he was still relatively new to the area, only having moved there in 1974, he said.

    But he was fortunate enough to have come into contact with the right people to help make the race happen, he said.

    "I think a major part of the success of Brian's Run and why it kept going for 25 years in West Chester was because of the key people involved," said Brandon.

    "A number of those folks said to me that this was really the first event where the whole community came together,"he said.

    Both Poole and Brandon stepped down their involvement with the race after the first 10 or 15 years but still find ways to be involved whether its attending the race or helping out on the side.

    "I got concerned that that the race was too closely identified with me and my family," said Brandon.

    However, he doesn't seem to be concerned that the race will be disappear anytime soon.

    "It looks like an institution that is here to stay," he said.

    Brian's Run will begin with a family "fun run" at 11 a.m. today. The 10,000-meter road race gets under way at 1 p.m. Start and finish lines are on South New Street near West Chester University's Farrell Stadium, and in the stadium itself, respectively.

    ©Daily Local News 2002

  • #2
    A beautiful day for Brian's Run

    A beautiful day for Brian's Run

    By Jessica M. McRorie , Staff Writer 03/29/2004

    WEST CHESTER -- A change in location and date did not deter about 2,000 runners from participating in the 26th annual Brian's Run Race Sunday.

    The race, traditionally held at West Chester University during the first week of December, was instead hosted by Collegium Charter School located in the 100 block of North Everhart Street, said organizer Lawrence "Skip" Persick.

    The event was postponed in December due to icy conditions.

    "We were faced with the first time in the 26-year history of having to reschedule it and we managed to do it," said Persick.

    The runners, experienced and first-time participants