Canadian running community deeply saddened by loss of member of “our family” in Danny Kassap

That "Danny smile" was there for his greatest moment: winning STWM 2004 in 2:14:50

 We were shocked and greatly saddened this morning to receive the news that Danny Kassap passed away at Sunnybrook Hospital overnight. It is so very sad and tragic, and a great loss to the Canadian running community — especially those of us in Toronto who were a close and intimate part of Danny’s “running family”.

Our thoughts will be of him today and in the days to come. Especially the Danny smile. With the smile came a zest for life, and particularly for running. Running was what had given him his road of escape from persecution in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2001. The Francophone Games in Canada gave him the opportunity for a new life in Canada, and he never looked back. It was a new life that began modestly at Covenant House with the struggles confronting many new Canadians just to get by. But his great talent for running soon connected him with Ross Rustica and the University of Toronto Track Club, that became his “new family”. His passion for running, and his positive, enthusiastic personality were infectious. They immediately touched all his training partners at UTTC. I believe he ran his first race with us at Canada Running Series [CRS] at our “Powerbar Rock ‘n Roll 5K’ in July of 2002 where he placed 5th in 14:46 [running as Danny Tshindid]. Perhaps his greatest moment was his unexpected victory at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2004 in 2:14:50. It was a victory that took three minutes off the Course Record of the fledgling Waterfront event and gained it further “respectability” following Ed Whitlock and Fauja Singh’s age-group World Records the year before. It gave us an unlikely Toronto champion and Canadian hero. It propelled both the event and a young refugee who was working in a fish and chip shop to get by, to national and some international recognition.

Danny at The Distillery after Acura Toronto 5K, July 2009

 
He became part of our CRS family, at the races, at the office, at staff Christmas parties. But I’m sure today many Canadian runners and running groups will feel the loss of a member of THEIR family. At Nike, at the Running Room, at races everywhere — that’s where you’d find Danny. Or perhaps on “Danny’s hill”, the grass parallel to Spring Road Hill, the notorious last hill on the Spring Run Off course in High Park where he loved to do repeats.

Danny at Harry's Spring Run Off 8K on April 2nd in High Park where he placed 3rd

But it was not just with other elite athletes that he shared his passion. He was on the Start line of the Sporting Life Toronto 10K yesterday morning, then “backed off”, not feeling good, and jogged down to the Finish area. He didn’t cross the line, but jogged back up the course a little, to shout encouragement to friends and fellow runners who needed a boost to help propel them forward to the line. After, he hung out in the party site, and came over to see us at the Awards area by the stage.
 
That’s where you’d find Danny — anywhere there was running, and runners to chat with, to share a running life. And that’s where we’ll remember him. 
THANKS to Peter Donato of My Next Race.com for a great tribute blog, “Remembering Danny”.  http://mynextrace.blogspot.com/
 
This morning, I find myself profoundly saddened. That Danny smile and exuberance will be missed, but not forgotten.
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One Response to Canadian running community deeply saddened by loss of member of “our family” in Danny Kassap

  1. Stuart J. Smith & Famil (The Running Smiths) says:

    We were shocked by the news! Our condolences to all his close friends!

    We will all miss Danny’s great smile and his friendly antics after the races! The kids especially all loved his energy and his infectious smile and contagious “giggles”…. thank you Danny for uplifting all of us who participate in running… at all levels! You will be missed!

    Love… Stephanie, Allison, Andrea, Nicholas, Stuart and Susie.

    God speed!

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