BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Whether you know the Sugorovskiy family or not, you're likely familiar with their story.
It's been nearly two years since a tragic car accident off the Scajaquada took the life of their son, Maksym, when a car went off the road into Delaware Park.
It was a catalyst for a change, including a speed reduction on the 198 and new barriers along Delaware Park, but parents Mary and Wally Sugorovskiy have been working on a different kind of change.
They want to make sure the world that Maksym left behind is a better place.
"Kindness was just a very big part of who his was, in just his short little life,” said Mary. “Just kindness in general...it's something that's so simple, yet I have to say that it is often overlooked on a day to day basis."
An idea was born: the “Run for Kindness.”
"We were trying to think of a way to raise money and a fundraiser that was aligned with what our mission, and also something that reminded us of Maksym,” explained Mary. “So that's how the Run for Kindness started.”
The first-ever Run for Kindness takes place at Delaware Park. Participants will run, or walk Ring Road, along the very route where Maksym died.
Mary said choosing the route was a difficult decision, but one she felt was appropriate.
"I think…that it did make sense, because in a way, we're trying to take some of the focus off of what happened to Maksym and how, and focus more on how, when you do walk this park, and Ring Road, that the focus shifts more to the fact that Maksym lived and who he was,” Mary said.
The Run for Kindness will benefit Maksym's Giving Tree Foundation.
With that money, the Foundation hopes to bring a speakers series about kindness to at least five local schools.
Forest Elementary in Williamsville was the first to sign up.
"I think it's really going to bring a good enthusiasm and help the kids really understand what it means to be kind,” said Lisa Seaborn, who works at the school.
Seaborn is a special needs teaches and the wellness facilitator at at Forest. Kindness, she says, is an underlying theme of the school's values.
"Especially in this day and age where there's a lot of cyberbullying, things on the internet, things in the real world that just showcase bullying,” Seaborn said. “We're really trying to downplay that and show kindness and spread that throughout the building."
"Even speaking from just my own personal experience, after everything that happened, it can just really go a long way and really make a big difference,” Mary said. “It's unbelievable that it's going to be two years, almost two years coming up at the end of the month, that we lost Maksym."
Maksym's Giving Tree Foundation has already gifted therapeutic bicycles to kids with unique needs, an ongoing service when funds allow.
Mary looks forward to this next venture and hopes that it encourages other children to be kind, like Maksym.
"I am excited, and it's legitimate. It's genuine because that's so important to kids, to teach them kindness,” said Seaborn. “Sometimes that don't learn it at home, you never know, so it's our job to make sure they're learning it.”
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