When Holliston High School Junior Max Athy needed to identify a leadership project for his National Honor Society application, his first thought was to find a way to help the Timothy O'Connell Foundation.
After a summer of planning, organizing and fundraising, that thought led to this Saturday's Tim's Trot, a 3K run/walk at Holliston High School to raise funds for the foundation.
Athy's younger brother was a classmate of Timothy, who died in 2008 after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia. He had just turned 10.
Before his death, Tim had been adopted by the Panthers football team.
"Being part of the football team, we always remember the way he battled and when we think we can't dig deeper, we know we can dig 10 times deeper," said Athy, a running back/receiver and linebacker on the Panthers. "I thought this would be a good way to help the foundation out and give something back."
Tim O'Connell's battle with cancer moved many in Holliston and Max Athy was among them, said his mother, Cynthia.
"Something really hit home for him," Cynthia Athy said. "Not a day goes behind that he doesn't leave the house without least one of his Timmy bands," she added, referring to the wrist bands created in his memory.
Since being formed in 2008, the Timothy O'Connell Foundation has distributed nearly $100,000 for cancer research causes and granted $10,000 in scholarship funds to graduating HHS seniors.
Athy knew he was taking on a major task in organizing the 3K run, but got some tips on how to get started from a friend. Then, with help from Tim's mom, Joanne O'Connell and the foundation, he proceeded to raise more than $4,000 in sponsorships alone. "I'm really grateful for them allowing me to learn as much as I have about managing something like this," he said.
As of Tuesday, some 100 runners, walkers and teams had signed up to take part in the event, meaning Athy will be turning over a substantial check to the foundation.
Along with Joanne O'Connell, Athy credits his own mother with providing invaluable support, especially since school and football both resumed.
While one of the short-term goals of the project has been achieved, with Athy being accepted into the National Honor Society--"I found out this week," he said.--Athy is already thinking bigger picture and hopes to see Tim's Trot become a yearly event.
Athy said he has learned plenty about organization, fundraising and managing events, but just as much about Holliston's heart.
"It's been great to see all the heart that is out there and watch how the community comes together," he said.
The first Tim's Trot takes place on Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. Race-day registration and check-in will begin at 12:15 p.m. at noon at Holliston High School. The $25 entrance fee benefits the foundation. A registration form and additional information can be found on the Timothy O'Connell Foundation Website.