Lyons Hall hosts 25th Mara Fox 5k Run
Natalie Weber | Monday, October 29, 2018
Traveling to Spain with her parents, Mara Fox fell in love with Toledo. She hoped to study abroad there, and planned to pursue a minor in Spanish. She was enamored with the language and wanted to serve in Spanish-speaking communities.
But she never had the chance to realize her dreams.
In 1993, while walking back to campus, the then-freshman was hit and killed by a car. According to the South Bend Tribune, the driver “was still intoxicated at the time of his arrest,” though he was never convicted of drunk driving.
To honor Fox, who was a resident in Lyons Hall, former Lyons rector Sister Kathleen Beatty started a walk in Fox’s name. In the 25 years since Fox’s death, the event has grown into a campus-wide race to raise funds for a study abroad scholarship in Fox’s name. And on Saturday, Lyons Hall hosted the last official Annual Mara Fox 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Walk.
“We had the first real official campus-wide Mara Fox Fun Run for two reasons — not just for the scholarship, but also to raise awareness about drinking and driving,” Beatty said. “So we had a lot of the campus dorms came and supported it and came out. We had people from the community.”
More than 150 people attended this year’s race, sophomore Caroline Cooper, one of the race’s organizers, said. The scholarship funded by the race has grown to $300,000 and benefitted 51 students studying abroad in Toledo.
“I think [the race] is important because it helps raise money for the Mara Fox scholarship which allows students to study abroad in Toledo, Spain, which was one of Mara’s dreams,” Cooper said. “Students — since the year she died — have been able to go and live out part of Mara’s dream, so we definitely feel very lucky that Mara’s watching over us in Lyons, too.”
Senior Matthew Heeder is one such scholarship recipient. He said he participated in the race Saturday to support the scholarship that helped him achieve his goal of traveling to Spain.
“Really, I wouldn’t be able to go without that [scholarship],” he said. “So [it’s] just unreal to come out here and give back in some tiny part of that and meet the family and thank them in person.”
Of the race participants Saturday, freshman Michael Lee was the top male finisher and freshman Brianna Carlson was the top female finisher. Terry McCarthy, Fox’s stepfather, also participated in the race this year, a tradition he has kept up since the race was founded.
“It has been the main motivator for me to keep running all these years,” he said Saturday. “I will be running the 5k today at 83, for the 24th time, and this year I’ve run 20 races so far. And the thing that has sustained me has been this wonderful devotion that we still have for Mara.”
Teresa McCarthy, Fox’s mother, was also in attendance at the race. She said she remembers Fox for her spirit and love of the University.
“She was our youngest daughter — youngest of three girls — and time comes, she was a military brat and had been moved around all her life, so when she came to Notre Dame, she knew it was going to be for a full four years and she loved it,” she said. “She loved her roommates, loved her studies.”
Cooper also said in an email that Saturday’s run is not “necessarily the last run,” though Lyons Hall is looking into other possible fundraisers in honor of Mara.
“The fate of the run and future fundraising events for Mara are still in flux at this time but there will still be events for Mara in the future,” Cooper said.
Terry McCarthy said the University has promised to keep the scholarship fund going.
“Now the family of Mara Rose Fox is completely assured that the scholarship will continue in perpetuity and that makes us feel just wonderful,” he said. “But we will continue to come back to Notre Dame for special occasions — either with the international studies or with Lyons Hall. We are eternally grateful to the fact that Lyons Hall, 25 years, has made this their signature event and brought all of these people together in memory of Mara Rose.”
Beatty said she hopes the race leaves a lasting legacy that encourages people to take their decisions seriously.
“It’s good that people keep learning and take responsibility and make better decisions in life,” she said. “That’s I think the goal for all of us as human beings is constantly growing and greater awareness of what we’re supposed to be doing in our lives.”