A Mile With You Norman Kim-Senior ’05 has created a COVID Memorial Walk and Run to foster community, support local nonprofits and mark the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.
In February 2020, at the very start of the pandemic, Norman Kim-Senior ’05, a Spanish teacher at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, heard that a former colleague had lost nine loved ones to the pandemic.
“The rest of us were just waking up to what this would mean for us, and she’d already been devastated by this new-to-us virus,” said Kim-Senior. “People couldn’t get together to hug and mourn and support each other — all the things you do to help process the grief. So I started thinking about what I could do beyond buying my friend a card.”
That’s when he decided he could run a mile for each person she had lost. To commemorate her loved ones, he asked her to send him a song that best represented a favorite moment with that person. He also offered the choice of a morning or evening run. “The full cycle would be running while listening to the song and then writing a note to my friend. I wanted her to know that I understood the emotional weight of what she was going through and to say, ‘Hey, someone is thinking about you.’ ”
As the COVID-related deaths mounted, Kim-Senior decided to offer his memorial runs to others. “I have the fortunate situation of being on a campus where I have the physical space to run and to stay healthy,” he noted. “And I have the circumstances in my life where right now, within reason, I can maintain some amount of mental peace and calmness about what’s going on.”
He organized the COVID Memorial Walk and Run, starting March 28 and lasting for two weeks, the length of a quarantine period. All funds raised will go to nonprofits in the D.C. area to cover food, housing and other needs in the community. Over the course of the 14 days, participants are invited to join the five-part run/walk series and to engage in acts of remembrance.
“We certainly need something to contain the stress, process that stress and get through the wall,” said Kim-Senior. “We don’t know what’s coming down the road, so we need to strengthen ourselves. And while we’re doing that, if we can invite others on the journey and help a community, all the better.”