Mark Bonistall is a grade-school friend of mine from St. Anthony’s in the Silver Lake section of West Harrison. At St. Anthony’s, if you were caught giggling or whispering to a “neighbor” at the back of the classroom, the nuns would ask you to go up to the front of the room and explain to everyone else what it was you that was so funny. Most kids were terrified of going up to the front of the room to speak in front of the 55 or so kids in the room  (remember, this was Catholic school in the mid-1960s). You would shut up, red-faced and shrink back into your seat.  Mark was one of those kids, however, who would take the nuns literally. He would stand right up and start telling a joke or funny story, leaving everyone in the room (including the nun!) in stitches.

In recent years, however, I have come to see Mark’s bravery through a new lens. In 2005, Mark’s daughter Lindsey was brutally murdered by an intruder in her off-campus apartment near the University of Delaware.  In the wake of this horrible tragedy, Mark and his wife Kathleen have had the unimaginable fortitude to build a non-profit foundation from scratch, called PEACE OUTside Campus, supporting the educational and advocacy issues around safety for college students both in off-campus and on-campus environments.

The organization has an annual fundraising and friend-raising 5K road race at Purchase College, which I have the honor of participating in every year, most recently this past Sunday morning. I ran well and won the gold medal for my age group.

With Kathleen Bonistall (left), Vice Chair and Co-Founder of PEACE OUTside Campus, and teammate Caroline Plank.

I compete in many races, and can attest that this is the one that is most full of the spirit of kindness and neighborliness — not to mention the best post-race breakfast, music, sponsor tables, silent auction and raffles.

But the best thing is the optimism and upbeat spirit, remembering and projecting the values of a young woman that most of us who attend every year never had the pleasure of meeting.  If we all can carry a little bit of Lindsey and her family’s spirit around with us every day and let it guide our actions, we’re all going to be all right!