On May 27, 2020 the Merrimack Valley Striders running club awarded 10 scholarships to local high school seniors in May’s virtual monthly meeting.
The MVS Memorial Scholarship program honors the memory of six members: Mike Dowe, Greg Gumbinner, Dean Peterson, Sam Denopoulos, Ralph Rockwood and Lou Peters who have died and "exemplified the character and dedication to running and fitness that the MVS organization encourages".
The Memorial Scholarship Fund began in 1998 and has awarded over $150,000 in scholarships to date. Money comes from individual club member donations, as well as large annual donations from the Andover Feaster Five and Ogunquit Lobster Dash race proceeds.
The scholarships are given to eligible seniors preparing for colleges who have participated in cross country, indoor track or outdoor track during their high school years. All high schools through-out the membership area are notified of this scholarship opportunity. The students must submit a profile form along with an essay on "What running means to me" demonstrating their character and dedication to running.
In addition to the $2,000 scholarship, recipients receive a five-year membership in the Merrimack Valley Striders and one entry into the Feaster Five race held on Thanksgiving morning in Andover.
Below are the 2020 recipients:
Griffin Allaire – Wells
Griffin comes from a family of runners, including his mother and grandfather. He was a four time Maine state champion outdoors in the mile (sophomore and junior), two mile (junior) and 4x400 relay (sophomore). He was an All-State team selection for cross country as a junior and senior.
He cited running for bringing balance and fitness to his life, as well as believing in himself.
The AP Scholar plans to study criminal justice with the goal of joining the FBI. He also plans to run in college.
Aiden Bowler – Lawrence Central Catholic
Aiden caught the running bug in middle school when her mother brought her to a 5k road race. She saw the joy her mother had with her friends.
During four years of cross country, indoor and outdoor track, she felt the sense of accomplishment when crossing the finish line.
She was a member of the National Honor Society and a Student Ambassador. In grades 9-11, she received Academic Awards In Excellence in science and math.
Aiden plans to major in biology and pursue a doctorate in scientific research.
Christopher Brady – North Andover
During his four years of cross country, indoor and outdoor track, Christopher cited the special bond with other runners and learned to appreciate the work needed to achieve goals.
He achieved the rank of “Life” in Boy Scouts and has volunteered with the local Youth Track program for the last four years as an events coach.
His involvement with the committee for Youth Government inspired him to study government and economics in the hope of creating positive change.
During the summer of 2019, he was a House Intern for Representative Christina Minicucci.
Gabrielle DeRoche – Haverhill
Gabrielle emerged as an MVC All-Star for the 2019 cross country season. She was a member of the cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams for all four years. She will continue her running at Stonehill College.
She was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council and Art Club.
Gabrielle hopes to keep running throughout her life and viewed her teammates and coaches as family.
Lindsay MacLellan – North Reading
Lindsay received numerous honors during her four year running career. She was a member of the 2018 and 2019 Boston Globe All-Scholastic cross country team, as well as the Boston Herald for 2019. She is the school’s indoor track record holder in the mile, two mile and distance medley.
The National Honor Society member served as a peer mentor and has been a coach at Reading Gymnastics Academy since 2016.
Lindsay cited running as teaching her to have goals and plans to continue it Lehigh University where she will major in business management.
Jason McKeon – Haverhill
Jason first started running outdoor track in middle school. He ran cross country, indoor and outdoor track all four years. He cited the mentoring done by upperclassmen to make him feel comfortable as a freshman and served in that role as a senior.
After a great sophomore season, he overcame an injury his junior year by staying focused on working his way back.
Jason has been a summer counselor at the Haverhill Boys and Girls Club.
The National Honor Society member plans to attend UMass Lowell and major in business. Road races will be on his schedule.
Teagan Pratt – Pentucket Regional
Teagan was a peer mentor, member of her church youth group and junior choir, as well as a volunteer at a special needs track meet.
As a four year member of the cross country, indoor and outdoor teams, she learned the importance of resilience and leadership skills.
She was a member of the National Honor Society as well as ones for biology and Latin.
Teagan plans to study biology and environmental science.
Ryan Shea – Landmark/Andover
Ryan enjoyed great success after joining the indoor team his freshman year.
He was a member of the Boston Globe and Boston Herald All-Scholastic cross country team for 2019, while placing third in the New England Championship race. He was the outdoor Conference Champion in the 1,500 and 3,000 his junior year.
He received a 2019 Academic Excellence Award in computer engineering and English.
During the summer and school breaks, he has worked as an engineering assistant at a local company. He plans to major in engineering.
Max Tweedale – Andover
Max first started running with his mother in middle school. He began indoor track his freshman year and continued with the three season. He has been a regular participant the Feaster Five race with his family.
He cited running for developing a sense of commitment, healthy lifestyle and the bonding with his teammates.
After being selected to the National Honor Society his junior year, he served on the executive board. He was also a Student Ambassador and has volunteered at a local soup kitchen since 2017.
Max plans a career in neuroscience research.
Paul Yannalfo – Andover
Paul hopes to make the US Army his career through his college’s ROTC program.
He was a member of the cross country, indoor and outdoor teams all four years.
He cited running a being good for mental and physical wellbeing, as well as making him a better leader.
He plans to work for the US Census this summer.