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A Crowning Achievement
By Mike Van Denend

 

On January 25, 1997, a terrible accident on an ice-covered Michigan road took the life of Calvin student Brian De Wall and severely injured students Matt Remein, Lori Powell and Moni Anders. Moni has recovered from her injuries; Matt and Lori and their families are faced with enormous challenges every day due to serious brain injuries. Yet almost three years later, the Calvin community has not forgotten the struggles and the inspirational faith demonstrated by the De Walls, the Remeins and the Powells.

Chaplain Dale Cooper was challenged to run the Chicago Marathon this October. He pondered the thought of long hours of training in an already busy schedule and gathered other Calvin students for some conversation.

"We thought that if we're going to do it, we should do it for a reason," Cooper said.

It didn't take long for Cooper to think about January 25, 1997.

He developed a fund-raising plan for a scholarship to be named for Brian, Matt and Lori. About $30,000 has been raised thus far, and the local alumni chapters representing the students will likely distribute annual scholarships.

At the same time, Cooper and others recruited runners --- students, alumni, staff and friends --- to carry the cause through the streets of Chicago.

By early October, the team roster totaled 46. Each one was issued a t-shirt with a custom logo, the words "Chicago Marathon Fund Run" and a text central to the purpose of the endeavor, I Corinthians 9:25 --- "Running for a crown that will last forever."

On the back of the shirt, in large print, were the names of Brian, Matt and Lori. In smaller print were the names of the runners.

At noon on the day before the marathon, the runners left Grand Rapids for Chicago. Matt and his parents, Quentin '68 and Mary Cunningham Remein '70 drove in from their Silver Spring, Maryland home to send the team off with prayers and well-wishes.

The team members ran for a variety of reasons. Junior Alison Libolt was able to run with her dad, Will Libolt '73, of Chino, California.

Chandrakala Shrestha, a senior from Kathmandu, Nepal, saw her involvement as a way of giving back to a Calvin community that had significantly benefited her life.

John Witte '91, Calvin's assistant dean of student life, knew Brian, Matt and Lori well because they had been tremendous student leaders and running the marathon would reflect his respect and love for them.

Whatever the individual reasons of the runners, one purpose was common: to remember the students through serving God with body, mind and spirit.

And while no Calvin runner won any trophies or set any age-group records at the Chicago Marathon, that crown of lasting value glittered a little brighter in the Windy City.

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