Henrico teens kick off 24-hour Run-A-Thon in honor of friend killed

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 6:12 PM EDT
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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Dozens of kids in Henrico County laced up their sneakers Tuesday to run for 24 hours straight in honor of a friend who was tragically killed this summer.

In early July, Julia Budzinski, a 17-year-old Glen Allen Student, lost her life in a boating accident on the James River.

“That was really hard for a lot of people in our community,” Henry Berger said. “It was really hard for us.”

“Everyone knew her as a great person and so much fun to be around,” Max McGinnis said.

Julia’s friends are preparing for a long night ahead of them, but they say the lack of sleep will be well worth it.

“Tonight, we’re dedicating that 24-hour challenge to her, and we’re running in support of her scholarship memorial fund,” Berger said.

“It’s over the course of 24 hours, and, at the beginning of each hour, we run a mile. We all sleep together in tents. We choose someone’s house,” Connor Hennesey said.

Every year, this same group puts on a 24-hour Run-A-Thon for a cause of their choice. It started in 2020 when these cross-country runners were not able to practice.

“You never would think that all your sports get canceled all of a sudden, so you have to think outside the box,” McGinnis said.

Last year, the group collected hundreds of shoes for “Soles for Souls.” This year, the cause they picked to support was a no-brainer: The Julia Budzinski Scholarship Fund.

“Immediately, we just knew that this year, we had to do that because that’s just the biggest thing that’s happened in our lives,” Berger said.

So far, the teens have raised over $4,100, but they’re hoping to raise even more.

“The memories of Julia and Julia’s time here on earth can be extended by the acts of love that are shown by the community,” Berger said. “She would look down on us right now and be happy that we’re doing it, and she would want to be supportive of that.”

Different schools, teachers, and groups have partnered to run alongside them.

“Julia just brightened everyone’s day,” Berger said. “She added to everyone’s life. She made people feel better. She was always a positive influence in everyone’s life.”

To donate to the Julia Budzinski Memorial Scholarship Fund, Venmo @Connor-Hennesey or visit here to sign up for the run.

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