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'Run for Kindness' celebrates Maksym Sugorovskiy's life

It's difficult not to think for a moment about Maksym Sugorovskiy when walking on the Ring Road of Delaware Park in Buffalo these days.

It's so quiet.

The 3-year-old Maksym was killed and his sister Stephanie was critically injured when a car veered off Route 198 and struck them in the park in May 2015. After authorities investigated the accident, they lowered the speed limit of traffic on the expressway to 30 miles per hour. The noise level immediately went down, making the area that much of a better spot for personal reflection.

Maksym's family returned to Delaware Park about a year later for a special ceremony. A bench and a tree were placed there, and part of the road was named Maksym Sugorovskiy Way.

Now another year has gone by, and their mother, Mary, is trying to do something else to keep her son's memory in the minds of the community. She has started the "Run for Kindness 5K," which will be held on Saturday at the park.

There are all sorts of fundraising activities done by nonprofit organizations. The discussion starts with a simple question: Why a race?

"I just thought that running seems to be a big thing in Buffalo," Mary Sugorovskiy said. "There's a big community of runners.

"Besides, I myself want to get back into running. I ran in high school; I split my time between Mount Mercy and West Seneca West. Otherwise, I've been in the city my whole life. It seemed like a great way of unifying everyone, all participating in the same activity."

Maksym's Giving Tree Foundation has been established. The goal is to continue the child's legacy of kindness and giving. For example, the foundation has presented two therapeutic bicycles to Western New York families.

When the decision to stage a race was made, someone had to organize it. That job fell to Mary Sugorovskiy, who found out that the position carries a number of responsibilities.

"There are about three million," she said with a chuckle. "I wasn't really ready for it."

Sugorovskiy has been busy in the past few months trying to plan everything, no doubt calling every family member and friend for help along the way. The to-do list has been jammed.

"There's the police, permits, sponsors – and you go back and forth with calls," she said. "There's a basket raffle after the race. There's the rental of the lodge, the sanctioning of the event, getting volunteers for registrations, ordering T-shirts and getting awards."

Some decisions had to be made along the way. For example, where should be the race be held? Sugorovskiy opted to return to the park for it.

"It's a very emotional spot for us," she said. "We've been back there quite a few times. It was chosen because we thought it was appropriate."

Then there was the date. Sugorovskiy considered starting the race in August for his birthday, but eventually settled on May in order to celebrate Maksym's life.

During the process, Mary has come away impressed with the running community in this area.

"They look out for one another," she said. "They come from all over, and have all different abilities.'

For the race itself Sugorovskiy plans to have a moment of silence for her son, but the event is designed to keep the focus on the foundation. As for the number of people who will be taking part, Sugorovskiy reported that the numbers have been "fair" as race day approaches. The running calendar gets pretty crowded at this time of the year, so there's plenty of competition for runners.

"Registrations have been trickling in," she said. "From what I'm told, a lot of runners wait until the last minute. There have been a lot of people that said they were coming. We put out some lawn signs, and we'll have race-day registration in the morning."

Once the post-race party ends, it will be time for a short break and then another decision. Will there be a Year Two?

"We are definitely hoping to make this an annual event," Sugorovskiy said. "We'll have to see how it turns out. Hopefully it will be successful.

"There's no other run for kindness. It's a family-oriented event. This was a big tragedy that hit home to many in the community. We'll try to keep the memory of it going."

Race calendar


* Knox Farm Trail Run, 5 miles, Knox Farm State Park in East Aurora, 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, 652-8727.

* Prendergast Run for Literacy, 5K, 509 Cherry St. in Jamestown, 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, 484-7135.

* Run for Kindness, 5K, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 13.

* Holland Tulip Festival 5K, 3 Legion Drive in Holland, 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, 472-4111.

* Nancy Price Memorial 5K, Veterans Park in Youngstown, 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, 531-1216.

* Happy Half, half marathon, Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, 499-2300.

* Grinder Trail Run, 3.5 miles, Sprague Brook Park in Glenwood, 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 14, 574-0888.

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