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INTERVIEW: Founder Jean Mackenzie On The Paul Koster Memorial Scholarship Fund Virtual 5K Run/Walk

T.J. Clemente

This year the Paul Koster Memorial Benefit fundraising event has been transformed into a Virtual 5K Run/Walk. (Photo: Courtesy of Paul Koster Memorial Benefit)

The Paul Koster Memorial Benefit is hosting a Virtual 5K Run/Walk that launched on Monday, November 23. When speaking with Jean Mackenzie, Founder and Board Member, she explained that for the last 20 years the fundraising mechanism for scholarships bestowed by the organization was a games-based Casino Night. She noted, "No real actual gambling was taking place, just fun games to raise money."

This story started many years back, when a Jersey girl (Jean) met a Southampton local (Paul) in Soho in NYC. "When Paul was alive, he used to sponsor a big event where he did all the cooking to support the Southampton High School kids," Jean recalled. "He also used to go into their schools and do talks about the local fish. After he was killed in the tragic accident, there was no way I was going to be able and carry on with all that cooking. So, the first year, which actually was the first year of the renovated Roger's Library, we had a gathering there at the newly finished library to celebrate all Paul stood for. That then evolved into the idea of having the Casino Night to raise money for four $1,000 scholarships for Southampton Town seniors from any high school in Southampton Town."

However, this year the Paul Koster Memorial Benefit fundraising event for the scholarships has been transformed into a Virtual 5K Run/Walk because of the pandemic. Jean noted, "Everyone loves the Casino Night, we get dressed up and have so much fun. Hopefully by next year we will be able to host that sort of event again."

Paul Koster Memorial Benefit Board Member Katelyn Brady Stukas joined the interview to share the nuts and bolts of the event. "Participation is so easy," she emphasized. "First you sign up using the link as an individual or you can join a team or even create your own team. All you have to do is run or walk your distance any time you can during the time period. You can do it all at once or split it up into many days and do it anywhere in the world. I intend to do it with my young one in the stroller. However, make sure you log your time on the event site." The last day to do so is Sunday, December 6.

Then Jean added, "Besides the Run/Walk, we are also running a 50/50 and Chinese Auction with the winners being selected at the conclusion of the event. All prizes are listed on the event site and you can buy your tickets online right now."

The first 100 registrants will receive a Paul Koster Memorial Buff, along with a complimentary cup of soup at the Clamman Seafood Market in Southampton Village. All registrants will receive a participant bib and the awards will be announced at the end of the event.

Just before concluding the interview, I asked Jean Mackenzie does she remember any one particular scholarship award winner over the years. She relayed, "Actually, I do. His essay was written freehand in pen on yellow lined paper - kind of unusual because most of the participants type them up. His essay said he loved math and wanted to someday maybe become a teacher. He ended up not only graduating college, but also getting a masters in just five years and now he is a teacher in Southampton."

To register, visit elitefeats.com. For more information, visit www.paulkostermemorial.org.

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