TakeOff: A School-Wide Effort

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On March 27, 2010 a 5K run and one mile walk was held in memory of Pennsylvania State Trooper Kenton E. Iwaniec.  As stated in the TakeOff informational pamphlet, “Two years ago Kenton was finishing his shift and began to drive home.  Just two miles away from his station, an impaired driver crossed the centerline, hit Kenton’s vehicle head-on, and another beautiful life was added to the DUI victim’s death poll.”

TakeOff was a race to honor DUI victims and raise awareness about the seriousness of impaired driving.  The race was held at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, giving participants a unique opportunity to run on the airport runway.

For the past three months, the Iwaniec family, friends, and state troopers were meeting regularly to organize the race. Many clubs and organizations from Greater Latrobe High School, Ligonier Valley High School, and Yough High School also became very involved in the event.  “We had four state troopers that were on our organizing committee and they helped with promotion of the event in the press, spreading the word to law enforcement, security at the event, and assisting with the race planning.  The police academy at WCCC even brought their cadet class to the event for their daily fitness,” said Kenton’s sister Acacia Houck.

The Iwaniec family organized this event to honor DUI victims, raise awareness about the seriousness of impaired driving, and encourage the community to have a positive influence in the reduction of impaired driving.  The Iwaniec’s also share Kenton’s story and work toward safer roads.  “Some of the people we have spoken to include high school students, law enforcement officers, probation and parole counselors, health care professionals, Air Force Airmen, and even first time DUI offenders.  We have done over 40 presentations in the past two years,” said Houck.

Nearly 700 5K and 1 Mile participants joined in on the event, while over 200 individuals volunteered.  “We also had a lot of spectators and people who came for the Chinese Auction.  We think over 1,000 people were at the event,” said Houck.  All of the profits of the race are going to the Pennsylvania State Police and other enforcement agencies for the purchase of breathalyzers.

The Iwaniec family has high hopes of involving the community and spreading the word that impaired driving is a preventable crime, and that is what they did with TakeOff.  “My dad and brother ran a lot together, especially when Kenton was training for the State Police Academy.  This event was a nice way to continue that bond between my dad and brother,” said Houck.