KENT: Scott Hamilton remembers his late son with sweat.
Hamilton doesn’t just attend the annual Hammy Community Event workout to honor his son, Adam, a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan. He also participates.
For Hamilton and the hundreds of people who took part in the event Sunday, that’s no easy feat. The participants endured a 5-kilometer run and a grueling workout on the field of Dix Stadium on the Kent State University campus in temperatures that hovered around 80 degrees underneath blazing sunlight.
“Memorial Day used to be just another day off work,” Hamilton said as he prepared for the Hammy heat he completed alongside his son and daughter and several soldiers who served with Adam. “Adam brought reality to this community about what Memorial Day is all about.”
The community fitness event, which raises money to fund scholarships for Theodore Roosevelt High School students, included a 5-kilometer run in the morning and Hammy workout heats that began in the morning and continued throughout the day. The workout, created by CrossFit trainers, included rowing, squats, box hops, pull-ups, weight lifting, push-ups, sit-ups and running.
Army Spc. Adam S. Hamilton was killed in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan on May 28, 2011, when he stepped on an explosive device. Hamilton, a 2007 Roosevelt graduate, was a linebacker/wide receiver on the state playoff football team, the hockey career goals record holder and an all-American lacrosse player.
The event raises money for two $10,000 scholarships that are awarded each year to the Roosevelt girl and boy who best exemplify community leadership in the classroom and on the playing field.
Jason Welch, the owner of CrossFit Cadre in Hudson who organizes the Hammy, said the event is bittersweet for those who knew Adam, who was a CrossFit enthusiast. He said Adam was charismatic, liked to have fun and was extremely generous. He said Adam once used his own money to buy a pair of shoes for a student at school who was wearing a worn-out pair and couldn’t afford a new pair.
“He made the ultimate sacrifice,” Welch said. “That’s what this is about.”
Some of the past scholarship recipients participated in the Hammy event — their way of thanking the Hamilton family for the prestigious honor. This year, that included Kyle Manning, who received the scholarship last year, and his 7-year-old brother, Blake, who appeared to be the youngest participant. While others hefted huge weights about their heads, Blake lifted just the bar. He completed the workout tailored to his ability level, though, even beating his older brother in the 1,000-meter run at the end.
“I didn’t think he’d be able to do it,” said Kyle Manning, who is attending Ohio State University. “He beat me!”
Several soldiers who served with Adam also participated. David Cruz of Kent has participated every year, while Roy McKinney-Davis of Ravenna had attended the Hammy each year but joined in for the first time this year.
“He was happy, outgoing, the one always cracking jokes,” Cruz said of Adam.
“He was the glue that kept everybody together,” McKinney-Davis added.
The Hammy also drew people who didn’t know Hamilton, but who wanted to support the cause and challenge themselves.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Stephanie Margaritakis of Canton, as she rested on the side of the field after completing her workout. “This is a great way to pay tribute.”
Scott Hamilton thinks his son would approve of the annual event that honors him.
“To have him look down and see what we are doing in his name — he would be so proud,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said his son told him he wanted to grow up to be “half the dad” his father was.
“Now, I want to be half the man he was,” Hamilton said.