Scholarship Winners

As you prepare to run this year’s Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support and highlight one of the important causes that your registration supports. Since the inaugural race on September 21, 1997, organizers realized that this is more than just “the most beautiful 26 miles, 385 yards you’ll ever run”, as it’s a powerful platform for doing good in our local community and beyond through meaningful charities and scholarship grants. Each year, we are able to offer scholarships to local students who not only exceed in the academic and athletic realms but are also leaders among their peers through volunteer programs in their communities.

This year, the Adirondack Distance Marathon Festival has awarded scholarships to three youth from the local community and in honor of individuals who have been instrumental in the development of the Marathon. In addition to their scholastic achievements and recommendations from local leaders, each was asked to write an essay on Community Service and Volunteerism. This year’s recipients are (from left to right) Danielle Ramirez, Sydney Gagnon, (Joel Friedman) Brandon Olden and Alysen Bruce and here are some highlights from their submissions

Sydney Gagnon – awarded the Michael W. Terrio Scholarship

Sydney graduated 2nd in her class at the North Warren Central School and will be planning on continuing her education at Hartwick College. She believes that “the best investment I can make in in continuing my education and, the best investment the community can make is in my future“. Her Chemistry Teacher, Eric Welch, agrees, stating that “everyday, Sydney comes to my class ready to learn, eager to learn with work in hand and an attitude that exemplifies the fun of learning“. Mr. Welch’s points this out even though, “much to his dismay“, Chemistry was not one of Sydney’s favorite classes!

Michael Terrio was a Glens Falls native, Boy Scout and local camp counselor who graduated from New England College and managed a Vermont Inn after graduating. He later returned to the Warren County area and was the first coordinator of the County’s Park and Recreation Trails and later opened Terrio’s Carriage House in Schroon Lake in 1991. Mr. Terrio was an outdoorsman, member of the National Ski Patrol, Gore Mountain Ski Patrol and held a professional captain’s license from the U.S. Coast Guard. Before his death in 2006, Mr. Terrio would host the post race party for the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival volunteers.

Brando Olden – awarded the Daniel Perry Scholarship

Brandon graduated 8th in his class at the North Warren Central School and will be planning on continuing his education at Sienna College. As an avid runner himself, Brandon believes that “running has made me into the person I am today” and “any day that I don’t run I feel that my day is incomplete“. Debra Varsames, Brandon’s High School Heath Education teacher, echos those thoughts in her recommendation by stating, “his dedication to his sport has transferred over to all aspects of his life” recognizing his academics, coaching and community volunteerism.

Daniel Perry was born in Amsterdam, NY, and has been a resident of North Warren since 1995. During his youth, Daniel was a caddy at the Schroon Lake and Scaroon Manor golf courses, worked at a variety of camps on the shores of Schroon Lake and was a lifeguard and even a “soda jerk” during his summers. As an adult, Daniel worked for the NCR Corporation in Ohio, Florida, New York and New Jersey, for over 33 years before retiring in the North Warren area. He was a foundational member of the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival in 1996 and helped designed the courses for the 5k and 10k Races that take place the same weekend as the full and half Marathons. Early in his retirement, Daniel was a ski instructor at Gore Mountain and has been involved civically on the Board of Hudson Headwaters Health Network and President of the Rotary Club in Chestertown and was honored as the Chamber of Commerce’s VIP in 2005. When looking back at his life, Daniel says, “I feel very fortunate to live here and for that reason I am proud to have a scholarship offered in my name“.

Danielle “Dani” Ramirez – awarded the Peter M. Gushee Scholarship

Dani graduated 15th in her class at Schroon Lake Central School where she was a leader in the classroom as well as the field of athletics. Dani’s English Teacher, Sarah Behm, shares her admiration for Dani’s multi-faceted approach to her years at Schroon Lake Central School stating, “Dani fulfills her academic and athletic responsibilities with enthusiasm and views any setbacks as an opportunity to grow“. When asked what her greatest personal influences have been, she shares that “my parents taught me that helping and serving others is the kindest thing to do“. 

The Peter M. Gushee Scholarship is given in memory of the long-time Schroon Lake resident who worked with the Word of Life organization and Captain of the Schroon Lake Fire and EMS Department. Mr. Gushee became involved with the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival as the coordinator of the EMS services ensuring that nearly every detail of the medical services ran smoothly. Whether it was connecting the radio services to the town’s antenna or simply making sure the various EMS teams had the food and supplies needed throughout the race, Mr. Gushee’s calm and collected demeanor was appreciated by everyone. His priorities of faith, family and volunteerism made him a beloved husband, father, grandfather and leader in his community and why this scholarship is named in his honor.

Alysen Bruce – awarded the Thomas F. Williford Scholarship

Alysen graduated 1st in her class at the Schroon Lake Central School and plans on attending SUNY New Paltz where she will major in Education striving to one day be a High School Science Teacher. Her SLCS Science Teacher, Matthew Riddle, believes that “she will succeed at anything she puts her mind to and be a positive influence to many people along the way“. Alysen tells how volunteering has helped her grow as an individual, writing “knowing how to work for others and not just for yourself is an incredibly important part of being a teacher as one must be selfless when working with individuals who are learning new things“. 

Thomas Williford’s family moved from the Bronx to Schroon Lake when he was just five years old. Tom graduated from Schroon Lake Central School in 1942 and then served in the United States Navy as a pharmacist mate during WWII. After the war and receiving a degree from Cortland State College, he returned to Schroon Lake as a teacher in 1957 and became a volunteer fireman and ambulance squad member for over 40 years. Tom was involved with first aid, CPR and EMT training and volunteered in local hospitals and in Myrtle Beach, SC, where he and his wife Fran would vacation. As a member of the American Legion, Tom helped coordinate the 4th of July parade as well as decorating Main Street with flags for Memorial Day celebrations.

In addition to his military and civic service, Tom was a lifeguard at the town beach and a sport official for local soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball and one of the early Marathon leaders as finish line director. In 1993, Tom was recognized for his contributions to our community by being named “Citizen of the Year”.

The Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival is pleased to be able to recognize both these recipients – Alysen, Brandon, Sydney and Danielle – as well as the honorees Michael Terrio, Dan Perry, Peter Gushee and Thomas Williford. We also want to thank each of you who participate in this event and support the Scholarships through your registration fees. We thank you all and wish you a great race!