In August 2014, Caryn Hyatt Suthoff joined the Dodge Elementary School faculty as a kindergarten teacher. In September, doctors determined that she had cancer and she died December 12. She was 24 years old and had been married 6 months.
On Saturday, January 10, 2015, a benefit run will be held in Caryn's honor. The race will be hosted by the Order of Polka Dots Mardi Gras Society, of which her friend Meighan Harton, race organizer and first-grade teacher at Dodge, is a member. The "Run with a Dot/Caryn's Kids" 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run will take place on the University of South Alabama campus.
Registration can be accomplished by downloading the form at active.com or at USA Intramural Fields at 7 a.m. on race day. Further information is also available at active.com.
The run is open to everyone; categories are separated by age differences. Parents with small children are encouraged to decorate their strollers and wagons and participate in the race. And, for those who plan to run in the First Light Marathon the next day, "This event could be a great warm-up," said Dodge principal, Dr. Suzanne Crist.
A portion of the proceeds from the inaugural event will go to Caryn's family for medical expenses, Harton said. In the future, proceeds will be put in a special fund for the Caryn's Kids Scholarship, which will be awarded to one of her kindergartners at Dodge Elementary School as the student enters college.
In talking about her colleague and the reason for establishing the Caryn's Kids Scholarship, Meighan Harton said that Suthoff had worked a year as a paraprofessional at Dodge Elementary before being hired as a teacher, and that "She was an absolute joy to be around and was truly a light at our school."
Harton went on to say that she, Harton, had decorated her first-grade classroom in superheroes, and one day, Caryn just stuck her head in the door and gave her friend her very own superhero cape, blue with gold wings across the shoulders.
"You see, that is just the kind of person she was--kind gestures, smiles and laughs were her everyday thing. I placed the cape in front of my door and it is the first thing I see as I enter. It helps to remind me each day to be a hero and try to light up the lives of everyone around me."
The cape with its wings is the logo for the Run with a Dot/Caryn's Kids race. It is a reminder of the positive effect Caryn had on her friends; the scholarship will be a tribute to her memory and a lasting legacy to her Dodge Elementary School kindergartners.