The staff at Greene-Hills Elementary School in Bristol tied up their laces Sunday to honor a colleague who died of cancer.
Clint DeSena was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in 2014. He died in January at the age of 34, five months after his daughter, Callie, was born.
Saturday, his fellow teachers held the DeSena Dash, a 5K run/walk, kids fun run, and raffle. Fifty percent of the proceeds went to benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, where DeSena sought treatment. The other half started a college fund for Callie.
“I think he would be humbled. And, I think he would actually be surprised by how many people are here and wanting to help his family. He would be shocked,” said Maggie DeVito, a seventh grade teacher at the school, and one of the organizers of the event.
As she greeted hundreds of her husband’s former colleagues and students, Margaret DeSena was overwhelmed by the support her husband's work family has shown.
“It is humbling, and honoring, and amazing,” said DeSena.
“Clint was one of those teachers who had the most compassion, understanding for his students,” said Greene-Hills first grade teacher Colleen Parent.
Participants were asked to wear superhero costumes and t-shirts in honor of DeSena’s love for comics. They could also pose for a picture in front of their favorite superhero cut-out, get their face painted or paint a caped crusader mask.
“He was a good teacher because he knew what everybody wanted to do,” remembered former student Mark Palma.
DeSena’s death hit students and staff hard at Greene-Hills Elementary, which many describe as a family.
“I really miss him. He always knew what everyone wanted and he was really nice,” described Martina Jagielski who wrote a poem about her former teacher.
His wife said running at the school where he loved to teach was a fitting tribute.
“He was the most kind man I’ve ever met. He cared about everyone else. The two places he loved to be was running and at this school,” added DeSena.