In early April, two score members of the Harker community ran up the hills of San Francisco and along the lush Pacific shoreline in honor of beloved history teacher and basketball coach John Near, who died last September after a four-year battle against cancer.
The group ran in the Golden Gate Headlands Marathon, Half Marathon & Seven-Mile Race. Inspired by Near’s emphasis on hard work and passion, seniors Aadithya Prakash and Arthi Padmanabhan and Padmanabhan’s mother, Radhika Padmanabhan, dedicated hours to organizing the event and rallying seniors, faculty and parents to join in the race. Even members of the community who could not run showed up for support and helped pledge and spread the word.
Even though it was Prakash’s first marathon, he ran through San Francisco in under four hours, placing seventh. For some – seniors Stefan Eckhardt, Arjun Mody, Sarah Teplitsky and Padmanabhan – it was their first half marathon, and Eckhardt finished fourth.
Prakash estimated about $7,000 in pledges; cash is still coming in. All the money will go to the John Near Excellence in History Education Endowment Fund established last October by his family.
Near’s wife, Pam Dickinson, director of Harker’s Office of Communication, and daughter Casey Near ’06 supported the team every step of the way, adding their pledge to the endowment fund. “You all represented the heart and soul of what Harker is with this event,” Dickinson said, “and John would be so proud.”