Remembering Danny Kassap: some more Danny stories from Mark Kiteley & others…

Please DONATE to Danny’s Memorial Fund if you can   http://www.dannykassapmemorial.com/ 

Danny Kassap's last race: The Start of Sunday's Sporting Life Toronto 10K (Danny is #5 in purple strip, just off Eric Gillis' right shoulder)

TORONTO. May 4th. Great to see all the tributes pouring in for Danny Kassap, who died at Sunnybrook Hospital overnight Sunday/Monday. Sharing the memories, the stories, somehow seems to help share the loss, andto remember some of the many happy times at the races, on training runs, just hanging out with Danny.

Right off the top, some updates. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed, so we’ll hopefully know better then the answer to so many of your questions of “What happened?” As well, a group of his closest friends are making funeral arrangements as we speak, so we’ll let you know as soon as they’re announced.

Seemingly on the comeback trail: Danny on his way to a 3rd place finish at Harry's Spring Run Off 8K on April 2nd

 For now, we’d like to give Danny an appropriate send-off from all of the running community — his Canadian family. Consensus seems to be forming, that it would be wonderful if Danny could be laid to rest in Mt.Pleasant Cemetery where he loved to run, [combined with his many runs on the Beltline] . To do that, we NEED TO RAISE ~$30,000. Jay Brecher, one of Danny’s closest running buddies from University of Toronto Track Club has set up a Memorial Fundwith PayPal. Please donate if you are able.   http://www.dannykassapmemorial.com/ 

As Tina Weisz wrote on our Canada Running Series Facebook page yesterday:

 They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well the village called Toronto took Danny into their arms and embraced his genuine spirit. They then nurtured and guided him into becoming not only a marathon winner but a Canadian citizen as well. Now we need to say our good-byes and lay his body to rest in a dignified and memorable way.

 

A few good Danny stories, remembrances…

  1. Reid Coolsaet’s blog: “Danny Kassap’s last run” http://reidcoolsaet.com/ 
  2. Alex Hutchinson’s blog http://sweatscience.com/danny-kassap-1982-2011/
  3. Canada Running Series Photo Album, Danny at CRS 2001-2011. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.143801722359945.36479.116182355121882
  4. “Remembering Danny.” Some great Danny stories from a close, personal friend, Peter Donato of MyNextRace.com. http://mynextrace.blogspot.com/ 
  5. Jim Christie’s substantial and kind Obit in today’s Globe and Mail.  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/more-sports/former-elite-runner-danny-kassap-dies-at-28/article2007170/ 
  6. Morgan Campbell at The Toronto Star: “Danny brought joy to fellow runners”. http://www.thestar.com/sports/article/985071–kassap-28-brought-joy-to-fellow-runners?sms_ss=twitter&at_xt=4dc149117d7e2721,0
  7. Mark Kiteley, one of Danny’s former training buddies at University of Toronto Track Club, was kind enough to share this with us…

Mark’s Memories of Danny

I wanted to share and expressmy profound sadness for Danny Kassap’s death. Horrible news. I had a couple of reflections I thought I would share from a friend that may have lost a little contact, but had a great bond with him through his earliest days in Toronto.

o        He had a special spirit formed by a strong upbringing in the Congo. He had tremendous resilience. He was affable and best of all (to a gregarious guy like myself) he was incredibly comfortable and adaptable in basically any social situation. Case in point: A French speaker, he decided to move to Toronto to make a life for himself, even though the largest Congolese communities were in Montreal.

o        He was generous. Back when we were in touch a lot more often, he would lend me his car for weekends at a time to drive my youth aged basketball team to tournaments or races. If you were talking to a girl in a bar, you had Danny as a ridiculously gracious and funny wing man. If you had Danny cook for you, he gave you the larger portion (sometimes, if you were really special, he might make you ‘beignes’) If you had cheap, dated stolen Windsor Lancer running outfits, he gave you newer Nike signlets or track suits. If you ran to his place and got wet, he gave you (not lent) his basketball shoes, FUBU jeans and a Roca Wear shirt.

o        He was a great and sensible runner. While I rarely did pace work with him, he always struck me as not only a talented runner but one who read his body, his pace and his training plans well (Ross Ristuccia is shaking his head at this oneJ. And he knew how to coach-and from the accounts I’ve received about his coaching-this was an emerging strength of his.

o        He cared. And listened. He was a inquisitive and open guy who was an active listener and empathetic in nature. He didn’t have to try, he was just a nurturing guy. No wonder he was such a treasure for the Running Room.

o        He knew and cared about social justice both in our community and across the Globe. While I don’t know many details, he spoke with great clarity about the significant and strong role his mother (and father) played in his life. His mom was a local political agitator pushing for transparency in gov’t.

o        It was noted on Peter Donato’s blog, but I’ll add to the thought. This guy was an institution in the running community. Rare is the elite athlete who can so effortlessly –andsimultaneously- be the talk of both the ‘common’ and‘elite’ running class after a race.

o        And on a day in which he died, he always worked hard to convince me that – despite Jamie Black’s efforts- he was a New Democrat. He was the Toronto Centre NDP Youth Delegate to an NDP Convention!

o        The legacy of the Congolese Head-Bump Greeting (The head-bump is sort of like a forehead nuzzle between two men for which Danny introduced to me) which went like this:  

1.    Lean forward and press one side of your forehead to the opposite side of your buddy’s forehead.

2.    Alternate to the other side of the forehead

3.    Alternate yet again

Lastly, I know they won’t all chime in, but I wanted the Track Canada community know the names of the University of Toronto Track Club family – led by Coach Ross Ristuccia (and including Jamie Black, Badih Schoueri, Jay Brecher, Ian Reid, Matt McInnes, Trevor Caldwell, Spencer Morrison, Chris Madsen, Alex Hutchison, Diane Nukuri, Joe Campanelli, among countless others) needs to be highlighted as a primary and wonderful reflection of who Danny was –and who I remember him as a person. The Club provided such an enormous bedrock of support (emotional, physical and financial) for a guy that just needed the same, basic supports we all need to build and grow our lives’.

"Thumbs up," and that "ole Danny smile"! Taken after Acura Toronto 10 miler at The Distillery, July 2009,

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2 Responses to Remembering Danny Kassap: some more Danny stories from Mark Kiteley & others…

  1. Moses Kiprutto says:

    I’m trully saddened by the passing away of Danny Kassap. I know him personally and it has really touched my heart. May the God of heaven give his family & friends hope and courage during this difficult time. Danny was a nice man and he will be dearly missed by those who knew him. Rest in peace Danny.

  2. laetitia says:

    aaaah Dany i miss you and your jokes around me … today it s your birthday 29 years!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy birthday brother thx for your love your kindness your words of encouragement again happy birthday RIP.

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