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Molloy Remembers Karina Vetrano '04

Story & photos by Joe Sommo ‘03

It has been just about one month since Molloy held an unprecedented event in memory of the beloved late Karina Vetrano ’04. As many are aware, Karina, a member of Molloy’s first coed class and an avid runner, lost her life on August 2, 2016 after she was senselessly attacked while on an evening run near her home in Howard Beach, Queens.

Karina’s tragic passing touched the hearts of countless people both in and out of the Molloy community, and many reached out to our school to ask what they could do to help. After months of planning by an event committee, which included members of the Stanner Alumni Center and Karina and Phil Vetrano’s classmates, Molloy hosted an overnight walk/run vigil in Karina’s memory. The event also served as a fundraiser in support of the establishment of a scholarship in Karina’s name. The Karina Vetrano Memorial Scholarship will benefit future young women entering Molloy.

The event was dramatic in many ways. The overnight nature of the walk/run, and the heavy rains that fell at times, were symbolic. In participating all night, even through the heavy rain at times, our community showed that we will never forget Karina. There were family members, classmates, teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors, even individuals who had no connection to Molloy or the Vetranos, out on the track making their presence felt. That simple action was an incredible statement that we all stand together with Karina and the Vetrano family. The beginning of the race also provided a touching moment, as Phil Vetrano ’74, Karina’s father, ran the first lap alone while holding his daughter’s running shoes (pictured above).

Mass, celebrated by Fr. Patrick Flanagan, and brunch followed the walk/run on Saturday morning. Photos of Karina and samples of her poetry lined the hallways. Paintings of butterflies, created by classmates and friends at a Paint & Sip in April, were auctioned off in support of the scholarship. These were small touches all meant to honor Karina’s passions. She loved to run. She loved butterflies. She loved the number 11. She loved to write. She loved life. All of these aspects of Karina were acknowledged during Molloy’s event. A colorful butterfly logo was featured on large signage and printed materials. The Class of 2004 (pictured) began their walk at 11:00pm on Friday night. Her poetry, her words, were on display for all to see.

The love and support showed by the Molloy community resonated with the Vetranos. Phil Vetrano shared words at the conclusion of Mass Saturday. “Today I’m going to give myself the privilege to say good morning. Good days have been few and far between for my family recently, but today is a good day. This whole event is magical, and we’re going to help other children enter these doors and leave with something special that I don’t think they could get anywhere else. I’m very proud that Karina and I are alumni.”

In the weeks leading up to the event, the school’s Main Street entrance had undergone renovations to add a wider concrete path and landscaping. An additional concrete landing was poured near the St. Marcellin Champagnat statue in order to house a memorial bench bearing Karina’s name. It was here that President Richard Karsten ‘81 (pictured) spoke in front of family, friends, and the media. “The weather conditions were terrible, but clearly we stand strong for Karina,” said President Karsten. “After months of hard work, we were able to experience this dignified celebration of Karina’s life.” President Karsten then announced that thanks to the generosity of the Molloy and greater Queens communities, over $60,000 has been raised in support of The Karina Vetrano Memorial Scholarship.

The event concluded with the Vetrano family unveiling the new bench and releasing two dozen butterflies. Some landed on the new butterfly bushes, which will live alongside the bench. Karina was known to love many things. She loved her family, her friends, running, poetry, traveling, and life. Now, with a permanent memorial and scholarship bearing her name, and the potential for an annual event to be held, Karina’s creative spark and loving spirit can continue to inspire future students at Archbishop Molloy High School for many years to come.

More coverage of this event will be featured in the upcoming Stanner Life magazine later this summer. In the meantime, view our photo gallery from the event below, and click the media links in case you missed the initial coverage.

For more information about Karina’s scholarship, visit www.molloyhs.org/karina/ or call 718.441.9210.

Media Links: NY1 Coverage | NBC Coverage | QNS.com Coverage

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