LAKE PLACID - After just finishing her junior year at Johnsburg Central School, Kendyl Morse recently decided to dedicate her love of running and her plans to run in the Lake Placid half marathon toward raising money for the causes of the North Country Hardship Fund.
Morse finished 11th in her age group and 312th overall out of 2,500 runners to raise nearly $600 for the local not-for-profit organization.
"Kendyl restored some of my faith in the caring and self-less attitudes of today's youth," said Hardship Fund member Steve Studnicky. "She is a great young lady with an impressive love for running and she put her heart and soul into doing this for us."
The North Country Hardship Fund was born from the first Wayne Stock event held in 2008 to benefit Wayne Bukovinsky after a tragic motorcycle accident. The organization now continues to raise funds for families and individuals across Warren, Essex, Hamilton, Washington and Saratoga counties who find themselves in financial hardship because of unexpected tragedy. The Hardship Fund recently came to the aid of several people and donated $2,000 toward the families who lost children in the recent Fort Edward fire.
Morse and her parents Fred and Sue of Bird Pond Road in North Creek approached Studnicky and the Hardship Fund during the planning stages of her marathon as they sought out an organization to benefit from her efforts.
"I just love to run," said Kendyl. "And I wanted my run to help out some local people who were experiencing tragedy."
The Morse family is no stranger to unexpected medical bills. Kendyl was born three months premature and spent just over 3.5 months in the hospital after she was born, bringing the goals of the Hardship Fund a little closer to home.
Kendyl is a member of Johnsburg's varsity cross-country team and plans to pursue running in college after she graduates this year.
She finished the marathon with a personal best time of 1 hour 54 minutes and 30 seconds. her goal was to finish in under two hours and she and her family were surprised by the final results.
"She blew me out of the water," Fred Morse said. "When she rounded the first turn after a loop around Mirror Lake, I knew she was setting a pretty rapid pace. It was amazing to watch her run this race."
"While she has been a great inspiration to us, it seems that we may have inspired her as well," Studnicky said. Kendyl was joined in the marathon by four other local runners including Bridgette Crooms, Debbie Bedard, Traci Watson and Jill Pederson and was coached from the sidelines by Johnsburg Central School corss-country coach, Gary Wilson.
In the weeks prior to her race, Kendyl canvassed the local community for donations in either lump sums or per mile commitments.
"The community support was amazing," she said. "Despite the economy, people are not afraid to give a few dollars for a cause like this and that's a good thing."