Runners take off on the 5K run from Lafayette Park Saturday morning during the first annual Darren Lewis Memorial Run. Almost 400 people took part in the 5K, half-marathon and kiddie run. — Trey Mewes/ trey.mewes@

Archived Story

400 run to honor Darren Lewis

Published 7:00pm Saturday, June 2, 2012

The weather couldn’t have been better for the first Darren Dash.

Almost 400 people ran in memory of Darren Lewis, who passed away last year, on a cool, cloudy day almost perfect for the 5K, half-marathon and kiddie run at the first annual Darren Lewis Memorial Run according to preliminary counts.

“It’s wonderful,” said Karen Lewis, Darren’s mother.

Karen joined many of Darren’s family and friends, some from as far away as Indiana, to celebrate Darren’s life.

“It just warms your heart,” Karen said. “(Darren’s family) really miss him.”

Darren Michael Lewis was born March 25, 1973, in Austin. He, sister Dana Kvam, and their brothers, Scott and Brett, were inspired to run by their father Michael, who finished more than 30 marathons. Darren followed his father’s footsteps and led a life of running.

He ran for Mankato State University while he was there studying psychology and business, and trained for the Olympics for a while before he got injured.

Runners take part in Saturday’s first annual Darren Lewis Memorial Run. — Trey Mewes/

After graduating in 1996, Darren returned to Austin and started a painting business. As owner of Lewis Painting, he was well respected in the industry. He was proud of his talented team of coworkers.

“I don’t think Darren probably realized how many people he affected here,” said Kristi Staci, one of the Darren Dash organizers. Staci and Desperate Tears founder Shelley LeTendre came together over the winter to organize the run, one of several events held in Darren’s honor over the past nine months since his death. All proceeds from the run will go to Desperate Tears, an Austin-based nonprofit that supports mental health awareness and suicide prevention. The family hopes to continue the Darren Dash for years to come, possibly choosing different charities to benefit.

For Karen, the day was a family affair. Her other children Scott, Brent, and Dana all ran in the half marathon, and Darren’s children also participated in the kiddie run. Near the finish line, music chosen from Darren’s iPod helped get people excited.

Yet many runners wore shirts with a simple phrase, one Karen said exemplified Darren’s determination and competitive spirit. Darren Dash shirts said “Go big or go home.”

“That was his phrase,” Karen said.

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