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Walking or running, all in the name of 'Ski'

True story: My favorite day of the week to walk around my extended neighborhood is Thursday. That's when most of us in our slice of the 06320 schlep our recyclables to the curb for pickup the next day.

Maybe it's the reporter thing. But being a snoop is fun. Here is what I've deciphered: This is a good time to be a package store owner. Recycle bins are — how to put this delicately — abundant with empty bottles and cans of the euphoric nectar, indicating that if this pandemic lasts much longer, a good many of us will add to the "pinch more than an inch" thing we had going in the first place.

Happily, we have a chance to remedy that this week. If you're up for a "virtual" road race — do the actual running or walking, but at your own pace — there's hardly a better cause than the DK5K, tethered to the Dylan Konakowitz Memorial Foundation.

Hard to believe that "Ski," as he was known to many of us because of his protracted Polish surname, was taken from us nearly three years ago now. The road race in his honor preserves the memory Konakowitz by doing what he did best: help others.

The race raises money toward scholarships to young people in New London County ($6,000 so far) and educates the public of type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Type 1 diabetes (T1D), an autoimmune disease, occurs when a person's pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that controls blood-sugar levels. T1D develops when the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells are mistakenly destroyed by the body's immune system.

The cause of this attack is still under research, although scientists believe the cause may have genetic and environmental components. "Ski" lived with it most or all of his life.

T1D took "Ski" from us at 21 years old in 2017. His memory lives on through the foundation and scholarships bearing his name, not to mention, well, his name. A framed "Konakowitz" jersey hangs at Filomena's in Waterford in memory of a former employee as well as patron favorite.

A "virtual" race still requires the requisite physical exertion. It's just that the route — running or walking — can happen around the neighborhood, on a track or a treadmill or even a trail. The DK5K bills itself as a "virtual race on your terms, your turf and your pace ... run (or walk) the predetermined distance as a group or by yourself, whenever and wherever you'd like."

Entrants, who may run or walk any day between May 10-17, get a race bib, bracelet reading, "the sun never sets on T1D," magnet and medals for the top finishers. All proceeds from the $30 entrance fee to the Dylan Konakowitz Memorial Foundation. More information is available at

https://dkmf5kwalkrun.itsyourrace.com.

A primer on Konakowitz: He played on the 2011 Babe Ruth baseball team in Waterford that won the state championship. Maybe he was better known as a member of the wait staff at Filomena's, where he was part of the floor show. He could have lamented a life dealing with T1D that no 21-year-old — or anyone else, really — should have to endure. But he never let on. Instead, he remained happy and goofy and one of those people who made the room better with his simple presence.

It's really not all that surprising that "Ski" has accomplished more in death than many of us do in life. All the scholarship money aside, Konakowitz reminds us the power of people in our lives who simply make us happy. The important — necessity? — of such people gets underscored a little more every day now that life as we know it has morphed into a new abnormal.

So register and get out if you can. "Ski" would enjoy the image of people out there huffing and puffing through masks trying to stay six feet apart — all in his name.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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