After 20 years, a tradition continues for St. Dorothy Parish in Drexel Hill. Saturday, June 3 marked the 20th annual St. Dot’s Challenge including a 5K run, one-mile family walk and a kid’s race.

(See a photo gallery from the event here.)

It takes many months of preparation each year to make the event happen. An eight-member committee of parishioners must secure township permits, find race sponsors, organize volunteers, secure race timers, register participants and promote the event through websites, parish bulletins, social media and local news outlets.

They also have to order race day T-shirts for all runners and trophies for the winners in several categories. As a safety precaution, police and EMTs must be on duty during the run and walk.


“Thanks to the efforts of those who organized the event in the past and with their continued help, putting this year’s event together was fairly stress free,” said committee member Rob Liberatore. “It eases our minds. It keeps the runners safe.”

The goal for the event is to generate $10,000 to $15,000 for St. Dorothy’s. The funds are used to assist with proceeds for programs including Family to Family, Aid for Friends, the school’s athletic association and tuition assistance.

Local businesses sponsoring the event included Beneficial Bank, Bluestone Communications, Kohl’s, Ruffenach Funeral Home, Great Clips, Maggie O’Neills, Shop Rite of Drexeline, JD McGillicuddy’s, Pagano’s, Frankie’s Café, Sports Special Ties, Bruno’s Sunoco Service Center, Flynn & O’Hara and Giannini Jewelers.

Others sponsors are parishioners of St. Dorothy’s including Michael and Anne Callahan, State Farm insurance agent Dan O’Mara and state Rep. Jamie Santora, who represents Pennsylvania’s 163rd District in Delaware County.

“I grew up in this parish,” said Santora. “It means the world to help with this event that supports worthy causes. It brings the community together.”

While many participants are members of St. Dorothy’s or another local parish, one runner in the kids’ race was Chloe Conte, 11, of Allentown, New Jersey who was visiting relatives in the area. In addition to spending time with family and extending her support, she found the race a great way for her to warm up for a lacrosse game later that day.

“It’s really fun,” she said. “I like to get a good workout by supporting the church.”


Among those running the 5K was John Pickhaver Jr., 27, of Drexel Hill who represented the United States in the Los Angeles Marathon this past March. He came in 10th overall in that marathon with a time of 2:23:27. Pickhaver continued his momentum in the St. Dot’s Challenge and prevailed as the overall winner in 15:58.

The day always stands out for the Pickhaver family as the late John Pickhaver Sr. founded the event 20 years ago along with parishioner Jim McGowan. Pickhaver’s wife, Nancy, and daughters Kelly, Caitlin and Julie along with John Jr. come every year. The family now has a grandchild and another one on the way, which makes this a three-generation tradition.

“It feels great,” Nancy said. “Everyone does a great job.”

Sarah Hayes, 18, placed first among the female participants in 21:06. A senior at Cardinal O’Hara High School who graduated from St. Dorothy School in 2013, Hayes is a five-sport athlete including track and cross-country.

“It’s humbling to give back to St. Dot’s,” said Hayes. “It’s nice to be around the St. Dot’s family.”

There were age group winners as well. Coming in first for the 14 and under category was 11-year old Maura Brady (24:06), a sixth grader at St. Dot’s who ran the race for the second time.

“It felt difficult,” said Brady. “I was trying to keep up with my sister. It felt awesome.”

This marked Maggie Purcell’s fourth time participating in the challenge and she surprised herself by prevailing in the 40-49 age group with a time of in 28:05.

“I love participating,” she said. “It’s a great turnout.”

With a wonderful group of loyal volunteers, St. Dorothy’s hopes to continue this tradition in the years and decades to come.

“We hope it goes for another 20 to 25 years,” said Liberatore.