Race for Stace' to continue legacy of Stacey Lynn Frechette

PLATTSBURGH Its been more than a year since an automobile accident claimed the life of Stacey Lynn Frechette, but there are still some days her older brother, Justin Frechette, expects to see her walk through the door. Theres just an emptiness, said Justin. I just wait for her to come in and say, Whats for dinner? I just expect her to show up and prove this isnt real. The Frechettes have always been a close family, and the loss of Stacey was devastating to say the least, and most certainly unexpected. The accident which claimed her life occurred on what Justin considers a dangerous portion of State Route 9 between Chazy and Plattsburgh. His sister was traveling to Plattsburgh when her car hit a snow drift, pulling her into the path of an oncoming truck. I talked to her the night before at our parents', recalled Justin. We were going to get together for a family meal on Saturday. Then, the world changed forever. The loss of the 24-year-old Mooers Elementary School teacher and former gymnast was felt throughout the community. Her death was an enigma to the loved ones she left behind, who were frustrated at how she was cut down in the prime of her life. However, the pain that came with the loss of Stacey a beloved sister, daughter and granddaughter forged the motivation to ensure a life lived too short would not be forgotten. Preserving Staceys memory and everything she stood for began almost immediately following her death, with her family asking for donations in her memory to be made in lieu of flowers at her funeral. The amount of donations the family received was as overwhelming as the turnout for her funeral itself, which saw hundreds of people taking the time to pay their respects. The donations helped establish the Stacey Lynn Frechette Scholarship Fund, which annually awards $1,500 to a local high school senior and gymnast who exhibits the character, grades and traits Stacey had and who is looking to further their education. We wanted to make it one of the most prestigious scholarships around with its value being significantly more than any other local scholarship and make sure that its around forever, and really helps someone fulfill a lifelong dream, said Justin. The emphasis on gymnastics as part of the scholarships stems from Staceys lifelong love of the sport. Staceys first major competition was when she represented the North Country in the 1995 Junior Olympic Games in Des Moine, Iowa. A few years later, while attending Seton Catholic High School, she was named an all-star scholar athlete and became a six-time Section VII and Champlain Valley Athletic Conference gymnastics champion. She even went on to win the CVAC Sportsmanship Award during her senior year in 2000. Stacey continued to compete while attending the State University of New York at Brockport, until a severe back injury ended her gymnastics career. It was then she began her path to another passion teaching. The creation of Staceys scholarship fund with a focus on academics and gymnastics simply made sense, said Justin. In an effort to support the scholarship fund, Jen Boyer, a childhood friend and later Staceys cousin by marriage, has organized the Race for Stace, a five-kilometer walk/run memorial event. When this happened it was tragic for me and my family as well, Boyer said of Staceys death. I wanted to do something for Staceys memory that would be something to make sure shes never forgotten. Having been a runner in high school and coming from a family of running enthusiasts, Boyer thought a fun and inviting way to have widespread community participation would be to host a noncompetitive walk/run. I wanted to hold something a lot of people could do nothing too difficult, said Boyer. And, in this community, its not a place like Albany or New York City wheres theres a lot that gets the community involved. This was a great opportunity to bring the community together, knowing all the money is going towards local kids. I have to give Jen all the credit in the world for organizing and getting this off the ground, said Justin. She came to us asking if she could do it. Were just doing what we can to support it and help get volunteers and whatever else we can to make the event be successful. If we tie my sisters name to it, we want it to be big, we want it to be successful and we want it to continue every year, he added. The first annual Race for Stace will be held Saturday, April 26, at the U.S. Oval. The event will begin with registration from 7-8 a.m., with the race to follow at 9 a.m. and include refreshments and entertainment. Pre-registration forms may be obtained at Warren Tire Service Center and Studley Printing in Plattsburgh, Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, and Chazy Central Rural School in Chazy. Pre-registration is $15 in advance or $20 the day of the event. A special pre-registration will be held Friday, April 25, from 4-6 p.m. in the Emmaus Room of St. Peters Church, 114 Cornelia St. The first 150 to register will receive a free T-shirt commemorating the event, donated by UniFirst, Keeseville. Boyer and Justin both added they would like to extend their sincerest thanks to those who have made contributions toward the upcoming event and those who will participate in support of Staceys memory. Of the supporting businesses, both extended a particular thank you to Brett LeClair and the staff at Studley Printing, for creating and donating the flyers and forms for the April 26 event. For more information about the Race for Stace, contact Boyer at 563-6400 during the day or 562-0528, evenings. Applications for this years scholarship from the Stacey Lynn Frechette Scholarship Fund must be submitted by Wednesday, April 16. More information may be obtained from Staceys father, Blake Frechette, at 562-0926.

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