The biggest fear for a parent who has lost a child is that people will forget her name — her memory and what she stood for gone with her last breath. It’s doubtful that Andrea Rose Teodosio, who died in a skiing accident in 2011, will ever be forgotten.
Andrea, who was 22 years old, was a companion to the elderly, a friend to the environment and a guardian to the oppressed. Every day, the daughter of Judges Tom and Linda Teodosio reached out to others, leaving a lasting imprint on the hearts of those who met her.
Shortly after her death, the Andrea Rose Teodosio Foundation was created. The foundation assists the underprivileged and elderly, addresses environmental issues and promotes community service and education in Akron and surrounding areas. Its efforts include the A. Rose Project (which provides gently worn formal dresses to girls in need who desire to attend their prom or homecoming), college scholarships and the Easy to be Green program, which provides raised gardens to nursing homes and adult day centers.
To support that foundation, a 5K race was introduced four years ago. This year’s race, on July 12, is expected to attract more than 800 runners and walkers, raising more than $35,000.
As someone who has lost a child herself, I can tell you that seeing people coming together and having a great time in your child’s name (in our case at the Brooke McMahan Memorial Invitational Swim Meet held in November at the University of Akron) is emotionally stirring. It provokes feelings of love, joy and appreciation.
Losing a child “is the worst thing that can happen to a person,” said Linda. “But it’s the support of people remembering that keeps you walking forward.”
The Andrea Rose Teodosio Memorial Run always falls near her July 8 birthday.
“For Tom and I, it’s such a way of celebrating her life. If circumstances were different, we would be celebrating her birthday. And what it does is make what could be a very difficult day very special,” added the Summit County Juvenile judge.
In addition to the 5K, the event will feature a one-mile Kids’ Fun Run. Seeing the joy on the faces of children as they stretch out and run is a highlight for the Teodosio family.
This year, the foundation will be teaming up with the Akron RubberDucks and the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to fight hunger. For each can of food or other non-perishable food item that you bring to the foundation booth at the Italian Festival on July 11 (http://it-am.org) or to the race on July 12, you will receive a raffle ticket for a RubberDucks package that will include four tickets to an upcoming game with seats behind home plate, throwing out the first pitch, a behind-the-scenes tour of Canal Park and a spot in the dugout to watch the fireworks.
“Andrea would be one happy girl to know that for her birthday, the Foodbank is getting presents,” Linda said, grinning.
A few months after their daughter’s death, I interviewed Tom and Linda to talk about Andrea’s life. During our chat, Linda told me a story about her daughter’s natural instinct to help others.
During a trip with her mother to Chicago, Andrea spotted a homeless man sitting along the side of the road. The mother and daughter had purchased a pizza to take back to their room for a snack.
“Mom, do you mind if I give our pizza to that man?” Linda recalled her daughter asking.
Andrea asked the man whether he would mind taking the pizza, because she and her mother were staying in a hotel and wouldn’t really need it.
“She saved his dignity,” Linda said.
This year’s run begins at 8 a.m. July 12 at Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron. Registration for the run is $25 if you register by Tuesday, $30 thereafter. Registration includes racing fees, chip timing and a commemorative tech T-shirt.
Pre-packet pickup will be held on July 11 from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. at the Andrea Rose Teodosio booth at Lock 3 Park. The 5K course is ideal for everyone, from competitive runners to those who simply enjoy walking in a beautiful setting, on a level path along Main Street and the Towpath. Participants can register in advance at http://andrearose.org/events.aspx or in person on the day of the race at the check-in table from 7:00 a.m. until 7:45 a.m.
The one-mile Kids’ Fun Run begins at 9 a.m.
“It’s such a gift to have the community care enough to come out on a Saturday morning… and say ‘We are here with you. We remember her too. And we are going to make a fun day out of it,’ ” Linda said. “We feel so lifted up.”