Front Runners, in annual dinner, honors Kelsey Louie, 28-year-old New Yorker
Last Saturday night, Front Runners New York (FRNY) launched the start of their twenty-fifth year at their Annual Awards Dinner in the Refectory Hall at Union Theological Seminary in Upper Manhattan.
The star of the evening was one of the younger runners, Kelsey Louie, who won “Best Male Runner between 20 and 29,” “Outstanding Track Athlete of the Year,” as well as “Runner of the Year.” In several acceptance speeches, the 28-year-old drug and alcohol counselor quoted New Zealander Sir Edmund Hilary, one of the first men to climb Everest, when he urged fellow Front Runners to “dare to be great.”
More than 100 attendees were present. FRNY is one of the largest and longest established gay sporting clubs in the New York area.
Ted Paszek, the club’s new president, opened the evening by pointing out that the event marked a crossroads for the club as Front Runners “gather here to begin our second quarter century as a gay and lesbian running club that fulfills a multitude of needs within our community.”
“Who would have thought back in 1979 that our club would one day have over 350 members who run, bike, and even sometimes swim in pursuit of their athletic endeavors?” Paszek said. “The proof of our success and viability as one of New York’s leading running clubs is the fact that this year we have won the Men’s Division B Championship of the New York Road Runners’ Club.”
This victory means that in the coming year, Front Runners will be competing in Division A against the very best running clubs in the city. All 16 runners who represented the club and gained the points that led to the championship win were awarded statues.
One of the more touching stories of the evening came from lawyer David Caraway who as a child had suffered badly from asthma and had been unable to take part in sports while his two sisters could. As an adult, he has competed, last season scoring 515 points for the club taking part in every single “points race” and scoring in 10 out of 11 of them. Caraway also competed in the marathon, completing it is 2 hours 59 minutes which put him in the top one and half percent of all finishers.
Seven of the club’s former presidents were in attendance including one of the club’s first presidents, Steve Gerben, who held office between 1981 and 1985 and traveled from Vermont with his partner to attend the event. He briefly talked about the early days of the club and how proud he was to see how the club has prospered over the years. A little later in the evening, Gerben was on hand to present the Guy Zelenak Award, named after a long-serving secretary of the club, to Paul Racine for his contribution to the club since he joined about ten years ago.
If there was an unintended theme to the evening it was that of “family.” Several people receiving and presenting awards talked about how instead of merely joining a running club they had found a supportive family of people in New York who were there to encourage them both in their running and in other aspects of their lives.
For further information about FRNY, visit its web site at frny.org or call 212 724 9700. The club serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender runners and their friends of all ages and abilities.