Salesianum unites for 5k honoring fallen officer Szczerba 

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

The Joseph Szczerba ‘85 Memorial 5k begins Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

The Joseph Szczerba ‘85 Memorial 5k begins Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Students at the Salesianum School are gearing up for a night of remembrance, community and fundraising as the private all-boys high school hosts its 10th annual Lt. Joseph Szczerba ‘85 Memorial 5k Thursday. 

“I’m running for everyone that puts their lives on the line for us and protect us every day,” said senior Michael Manzi. “That is the police and the military, and also for everyone who’s lost their lives defending our country and protecting us.”

Lt. Joe Szczerba

Lt. Joe Szczerba

One of those officers who lost his life in the line of duty is the namesake of the 5k, Joseph Szczerba, a 1985 graduate of Salesianum.

Szczerba was an 18-year veteran of the New Castle County Police Department who was killed in the line of duty on September 16, 2011. 

To honor his legacy, Salesianum established a scholarship in his name, and proceeds from the 5k will benefit this fund.

“I have a lot of buddies that are going to go into the military and a lot of buddies whose parents are police officers or active military,” Manzi said, “so I’m running for them today.”

He said the race means a lot to the students and local community, saying that his friends look forward to it each year.

“We do the run in part for the scholarship fund, that’s now over $100,000,” he said. “All the guys in school, a lot of us are doing it, and we want to support all the officers that keep us safe. We’re excited, I’m excited, and we’re hoping that a lot of people are going to come out tonight.”

The event features support from a wide range of regional law enforcement agencies, emergency responders, and the Salesianum community.

The memorial run has seen more than 5,000 participants in its nine years.

Blake Reilly, a senior, said he and a few friends are planning on walking the race tonight and enjoying their time together in the Abessinio Stadium at 1 St. Rocco Way in Wilmington.

RELATED: SALSTHON smashes fundraising goal: $243,791 to help children

“Having this event and what it represents is just beautiful,” he said. “It’s very beautiful that we’re raising awareness to those who lay out their lives for us to continue to keep us safe.”

He said this is a great highlight to the end of his senior year that he can enjoy with his friends before graduating. 

“The biggest thing is the fact that he’s an alum, he graduated as a Sallie and then went to serve,” he said. “The fact that we still have a brother who’s  idolized and remembered 24/7 is a very big deal to us.

Thomas Kardish, school president, said while Szczerba is rightfully hailed as a hero, his life was also an example of a sort of daily heroism, one in which he did all the little things that make a difference. 

“I think people respond to that,” he said. “It’s why his scholarship has received hundreds of gifts from nearly 500 different donors.”

It’s really gratifying, he said, that so many people continue to honor his memory with their generosity.

Registration for the 5k opens at 5:30 p.m. and the race begins at 6:30 p.m. Following the race, participants are invited to a celebratory reception featuring live music and free food and beverages.

“Once you’re in this community, you never leave this community,” Reilly said. “It’ll stay with you for the rest of your life.”

Share this Post