2008-05-29 / Front Page

Seventh annual Ali's Run this Sunday

By Stephanie Heelan Cotsonas

This Sunday marks the seventh running of the Ali Dunn Packer Memorial Road Race, also known as Ali's Run. Ali's love for sports, particularly soccer and track, inspired the idea for the race. "A race just seemed to fit her character," the Packers said. "We wanted a family-oriented day that honored Ali's memory."

Ali Dunn Packer's life was tragically taken at age 15 in an automobile accident. She grew up in Jamestown with her parents and sister, Caroline. Ali attended both Jamestown public schools and LaSalle Academy.

As a youth she played on both Jamestown and North Kingstown soccer teams and was a member of the Rhode Island Olympic Development soccer team. At the time of her death, Ali was a freshman at LaSalle Academy in Providence. She excelled in both soccer and track, finishing second in the 4x100 and 4x400 relay events at the Freshman State Championship.

In addition to her athletic talents, Ali's spirit deeply touched her fellow students, family and friends. In heartfelt response to the sudden loss of this charismatic, athletic and caring young woman, the following programs have been established in her memory: Ali Dunn Packer Memorial Fund and endowment funds at LaSalle Academy and The Rhode Island Foundation.

Ali's Run is held annually on the first Sunday in June and the event starts off with a half-mile Kid's Run at noon. Children participating in the run will receive a bib number, goody bag and race trophy or medal. There is no charge for the Kid's Run.

"We hope it encourages a love of sports and a healthy lifestyle for the kids," Maureen Dunn Packer said. "We have children who ran in the fun run for a few years who are now over 10 and back running in the 5K." For the 5K, the Packers are expecting about 300 runners and walkers on race day.

In addition to the 5K race, the memorial endowment fund was established at LaSalle Academy. This perpetual fund has accumulated over $40,000. The intention of the endowment is to "provide tuition assistance for deserving students," so they would not have to withdraw from LaSalle Academy due to any sudden change in family circumstances.

The Ali Dunn Packer Memorial Fund was established to celebrate the life and memory of Ali. The fund promotes teen awareness of the responsibilities that accompany growing up in today's society. The funds raised benefit youths wishing to pursue their interests in education, athletics and fine arts. With the support from sponsors and race participants Ali's Fund has awarded over $60,000 to Rhode Island teens.

The Ali Dunn Packer Memorial Fund was awarded the "Rhode Island Foundations 2003 Most Inspiring Partners Award." This award was established to recognize a donor who has inspired the Rhode Island Foundation with the impact of their grants and a thoughtful approach to grant making.

The long list of 2007 benefi- ciaries of Ali's Fund include the Rhode Island Food Bank, Kid's Café, North Kingstown Boys Track Program, North Kingstown Girls Track Program, Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation; Jamestown School music department, Rocky Hill School Library, Jamestown library RI Teen Award Books, Jamestown Soccer Association, North Kingstown Soccer Association, Jamestown Police Department, Providence Children's Museum, Jamestown Baseball Association, Empty Bowls, RI Community Food Bank, Jamestown middle school scholarships, the Tomorrow Fund, Soccer Kick Start - South Providence, Jamestown Boy Scouts, and the Newport Babe Ruth Baseball League.

Their solace comes in knowing the funds from the race do so much good in the community, and it is amazing how their acts of kindness have made others want to give back.

In the past, Ali's Fund provided the funds for the North Kingstown cross country team to travel to the Great American Race in Alabama and has also given money to the teams to purchase new uniforms.

According to the treasurer of the Jamestown Soccer Association, Chris Small, the competitive soccer players benefited from the fund, which donated 125 jackets to wear in the chilly spring season.

Two Lawn Avenue School students, who are strong academically and athletically, receive scholarships annually. "The only stipulation is that the students use the money for something academic or sports related," Maureen said.

The number of sponsors is upwards of 500 individuals, families and businesses, all listed on the Ali's Run website.

The 5K USATF-certified 5K race/walk scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday will start and finish at Fort Getty Park. Music, food, prizes and activities for the entire family begin at noon. Race registration opens at 10 a.m. and the race will be held rain or shine. Sponsors of the race provide a complimentary lunch for all walkers and runners. See www.alisrun.com for more information.

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