Fun run memorializes late Manhasset alum Oppo, raises funds for ovarian cancer research

Fun run memorializes late Manhasset alum Oppo, raises funds for ovarian cancer research
Port Washington resident Lauren Berkman smiles to supporters as she finishes the eighth annual Katie Oppo Memorial 5K in Flower Hill on Sunday. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

Men and women decked in teal ran through the streets of Flower Hill on Sunday in memory of a Manhasset High School alumna who died from ovarian cancer in 2011.

Dozens of residents registered for the Katie Oppo Memorial 5K Fun Run Sunday after more than 100 pre-registered for the race. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

Katie Oppo was about to begin her sophomore year as a pre-med student at Johns Hopkins University when she was diagnosed with stage four small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type, but her friend Daniela Calcagni said Oppo never gave up hope during her eight-month diagnosis.

“She was so incredibly smart,” Calcagni said. “She was so full of life, always laughing, always smiling. Even her stance on how to manage when she was hit with this diagnosis was just so stoic and so strong.”

Katie Oppo Research Fund Director and Katie’s mother Liz Oppo speaks to runners before the race. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

The eighth annual Katie Oppo Memorial 5K Fun Run had the largest number of pre-registrations to date, Calcagni said, with more than 100 people registering in advance and dozens more joining the run on Sunday morning.

“She was a very social person, and bringing all these different people together is definitely something she would have been a part of,” Calcagni said. “If this was for someone else, she would have been the first person there.”

The race began on Stonytown Road at Port Washington Boulevard before snaking through the neighborhood and ending in front of Flower Hill Village Hall on Bonnie Heights Road.

Manhasset resident Kevin Grimm races to finish the Katie Oppo Memorial 5K Fun Run seconds before Manhasset resident Maggie Tursi. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

Kevin Grimm of Manhasset was the first to finish the hilly run in under 20 minutes followed closely by Manhasset resident Maggie Tursi.

In the years since Oppo died, Calcagni said, the nonprofit Katie Oppo Research Fund has raised more than $300,000 for ovarian cancer research and has donated those funds to laboratories at Johns Hopkins University, NYU Langone Health and Northwell Health.

“We are so incredibly grateful for all of the support and love we have gotten from this community,” Calcagni said. “All of the donations we have made would not be possible without this community at all. They have been so unbelievably generous — even people who didn’t know Katie or her family have been so generous.

“Their funds have gone directly to research that’s currently helping people. We have young girls reaching out who have the disease who are saying our site is the only site they find related to the work.”

Reach reporter Amelia Camurati by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 215, or follow her on Twitter @acamurati.

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