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Regatta is a chance to honor students


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Regatta Run/Walk benefits Matthew Lembke Memorial Scholarship Fund.Though the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta is best known for seaworthy squash vessels being paddled around the Lake of the Commons, a different kind of athletic challenge is gaining momentum as part of the annual festival.

Now in its fifth year, the Regatta Run/Walk sees hundreds of participants and benefits the Matthew Lembke Memorial Scholarship Fund, established in honor of Cpl. Matthew Lembke, a 2005 Tualatin High School graduate who died in 2009 after a tour of duty in Afghanistan. It was his third return to the Middle East, as his two previous tours had taken him to Iraq.

The Marine ultimately succumbed to injuries he sustained from a roadside improvised explosive device, said Kathryn Hollaman, the event’s organizer.

Hollaman remembers the former Timberwolves’ defensive end as “one of those kids that kind of just drew people to him because of his personality.”

“He was very charismatic. He had a really good sense of humor,” recalled Hollaman, who has taught health and physical education at Tualatin High for the past 16 years. “What the other staff here have said about him was that he would go into the weight room, and every day he would write a funny quote or draw a funny picture on that dry erase board in there. He was one of those kids people enjoyed knowing.”

Scholarships are awarded to Tualatin High students who demonstrate honor, courage, commitment and dedication to service to others, Hollaman said.

“Those are all characteristics that Matt had.”

Last year, six students received $2,500 scholarships, and three were given $1,000 scholarships.

“In the first four years of the event, we’ve been able to award $50,500 total to Tualatin graduates,” Hollaman said.

“It’s been a great success. The community has really kind of embraced it,” Hollaman said, calling it a “collaborative event.”

“We started off with 85 runners, and last year we were up to 403.”

The Regatta Run/Walk 5K takes place Saturday at 8:45 a.m. at the intersection of Boones Ferry Road and Seneca Street in Tualatin. Online registration closes Thursday evening. For more information, visit www.fitcitytualatin.com/regatta-run.