Monday, April 02, 2007

Fools Five: Supporting Team Justin

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By Rick Solem | Winona Daily News

LEWISTON, Minn. -- They were in it in strollers.

They have walked it, ran it and worked it.

This year, Morgan and Lacey Hennessy couldn’t take part in the 29th Annual Fools Five road race.

Not in Lewiston, Minn., anyway. Not even in the United States.

The sisters -- Lacy, 23, who graduated from Lewiston-Altura in 2002 and Morgan, 21, who graduated from St. Charles in 2004 -- took part in the Fools Five this year from Iraq and they did it in memory of their cousin Justin Kukowski.

From their military base just north of Baghdad, the Hennessy sisters raised more than $2,500 for the Fools Five, which donates its funds to cancer research.

The sisters were supposed to be home from Iraq already -- home for their cousin’s funeral; home to run in his memory.

"They have been there since last March," their mother, Karen Hennessy, said. "Now, their stay is extended until August."

So they couldn’t be in Lewiston, but the sisters were taking donations for the Fools Five and took part in Susan G. Komen 5k Race for the Cure on Saturday.

On March 12, their 27-year-old cousin Justin died of a brain tumor, which he was diagnosed with a year and a half ago.

Team Justin, however, was at the Fools Five. Family and friends, wearing orange "Team Justin" hats were scattered throughout the field of runners.

"There are about 20-25 of us," said Justin's father, Don Kukowski. "He always ran this race."

Justin was a man who lived life to the fullest, even after he was diagnosed with cancer.

"He was still visiting friends in New York, Colorado and Wichita, (Kan.)," Don Kukowski said. "Even though he was just 27, he lived life twice as fast. He did more in those 27 years than someone at 54."

He never let the cancer get him down or slow him down.

"He touched a lot of lives," Justin's uncle, Randy Kukowski said. "I know he made me a better person just by knowing him.

"He never lost his sense of humor despite going through what he did."

Kukowski was born in Shakopee, Minn., and graduated from Chaska High School before moving on to the University of Minnesota. He finished school at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a Mathematics degree.


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