The concept for this foot race originated in early 1989, when Rotarian Michael R. Perna proposed to the Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Kennett Square that Rotary join with other Kennett area service clubs to host an event designed to accomplish three major goals:
• The achievement of sustainable camaraderie among Kennett area service organizations and citizens, and the fostering of an esprit de corps among the ethnically, economically, and occupationally diverse groups that comprise our community.
• The establishment of a fundraising vehicle that would net ever-increasing sums for expenditure to promote the general well-being and civic betterment of Kennett area residents, organizations and projects; and
• The showcasing of the town of Kennett Square and its environs by drawing participants and spectators from the region, the nation and perhaps even the world.
The leadership of Kennett Rotary, most notably Richard A. Sansbury, Robert A. Blackhall, Charles H. Weaver, Michael R. Perna and James P. Schultz, adopted the race proposal and designated the sum of $3,000 as seed money for this event, contingent upon the full participation of two other service clubs: the Kennett Lions Club and the Kennett Area Jaycees. Shortly after they were requested by Rotary to do so, these service clubs wholeheartedly endorsed the project by pledging their considerable administrative and human resources to bring the idea to fruition.
Keith McGrath, then president of the Kennett Lions Club, was a staunch supporter of the race concept. The 5K walk, one of the six events collectively referred to as "the Kennett Run", was later dubbed the "Keith McGrath Memorial Walk" after a tragic accident took his life only months after the first Kennett Run.
Several years later, when an unfortunate turn of events resulted in the disbandment of the Kennett Area Jaycees, The Southern Chester County Exchange Club accepted the invitation to permanently fill the gap as a full partner along with the Kennett Rotary and Lions Club.
The first year's events, held on April 21, 1990, consisted of a series of walks and runs ranging from 1 mile to 10K, were sponsored by approximately a dozen individuals and businesses, and attracted well over 100 participants, several hundred spectators, and approximately 50 volunteers. Net proceeds approximated $1,500, after repayment to Rotary of its $3,000 "seed" contribution.
2020 Grant Update
During this trying time for all, starting in April the Kennett Run Charities will be granting funds to local agencies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working with the United Way of Southern Chester County to provide funds to local non-profits with immediate needs. Due to the cancelation of the 2020 Kennett Run we regretfully removed the Grant Application for the 2020 grant cycle. Kennett Run Charities anticipates a return to historical practices with the 2021 race and wish you all to remain safe and strong.
2019 Grant Recipients
• Avondale Fire Company #1
• Kennett Fire Co. No. 1
• Longwood Fire Company
• Po-Mar-Lin Fire Company
• Kennett Area YMCA
• Lions Club of Kennett Square
• Rotary Club of Kennett Square
• Family Service of Chester County
• KATS Inc. Pantomime
• Chester County Food Bank
• Unionville Commnity Fair
• Stroud Water Research Center
• Oxford Area Neighborhood Services Ctr
• Historic Kennett Square
• Kennett Flash
• Chester County Arts Association
• Spanish Health Ministry
• Maternal and Child Health Consortium
• The Barn at Spring Brook Farm
• Kennett Education Foundation
• Meals on Wheels of CC - AvonGrove Chapter
• Living Bridges
• Crime Victims' Center of Chester County Inc (CVC)
• Domestic Violence Center of Chester County
• YCF (Youth Community Forward)
• Adult Literacy Program, Kennett Library
• Wings for Success
• Kennett Area Senior Center
• La Comunidad Hispana
• Kennett After School Association
• Young Moms
• Camp Dreamcatcher
• Good Neighbors Inc
• Kennett Area Park Authority
• Garage Community & Youth Center - Kennett Square
• Garage Community & Youth Center - West Grove
• Kennett Consolidated School District - WIN
Kennett Run Charities, Inc
The folks that make it all happen
The Kennett Run Charities Board is comprised of volunteers from various Kennett Square service organizations including the Rotary Club of Kennett Square, the Rotary Club of Longwood, the Lions Club, the Kennett Area YMCA and various Kennett area citizens who give their time and resources to make the Kennett Run a successful, fun event for serious runners as well as for family fun.
Bob Merkle - President
Michele Cyron - Treasurer
Christien Bass - Secretary
JJ Simon - Race Director
2020-2021 Board of Directors
Tom Neale, David Chopko, Al Schmitt, Chris Daney, Becky Devestine, Debra Swayne, Steve McManus, Michael Perna, Esq.
Race Directors Emeritus
Nadiene Ringler-Friedrich, Michael R. Perna, Esq., James P. Schulz, Aaron J. Martin, Gregory Scott, R. David Harrison, Ray Cornell, Robert A. Blackhall, Christopher J. Bailey, Esq, James Frezzo, Jr., Jenny Armitage, Patti Walker-Wein, Thomas P. Neale, Leonard C. Bieberbach, Al Iacocca
Matthew Genereux, Michael R. Perna, Esq., Donna L. Hood, Dominic F. Perigo, Steve J. Evans, Edward C. Lick, Christopher J. Bailey, Esq., Matthew J. Grieco, Daniel R. Kohler, Dr. Albert Schmitt, Leonard C. Bieberbach