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Chester County Press

They can be sheroes

In the autumn of 2015, two local runners – Karen DiMascola and Sarah Nurry – were watching their sons’ lacrosse match, and as runners do, and were commenting on recent races they had competed in. Both said that while the courses were appealing, they were nowhere near as beautiful as the roads they ran on throughout the Kennett Square vicinity.

DiMascola then turned to Nurry and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to bring a half marathon to Kennett Square?”

After months of brainstorming and partnership building, DiMascola and Nurry created the First Annual KSQ Mushroom Cap 13.1: A Celebration of Chester County and its charitable wing Run2Shine, Inc., and on the early morning of Oct. 15, 2016, the very first race took off from Kennett Stadium just as the autumn sun rose above the Kennett water tower. 

Eight races later – including a virtual race that drew 350 participants in the COVID-19 year of 2021 – the Mushroom Cap Half Marathon has drawn several thousand runners who have navigated a course that winds it way through the Kennett Borough and East Marlborough and Kennett townships, most recently on Nov. 4, when nearly 700 competitors lined up along Birch Street for the start of what has become a new Kennett Borough tradition. 

There is, against the backbeat of the enthusiasm and participation that annually marks this race, a larger purpose to the Mushroom Cap Half Marathon that is never seen on race day. Rather, its impact is seen and heard by a counselor paving pathways; by a tutor pointing in the pages of a high school textbook; by a mother’s hand reaching high on a food cupboard; by a colleague wrapping her arms around a recovering patient writing down the next chapter of her life; and by a kindly visitor who arrives in the hospital room of a child and gives comfort and hope.  

Tabulating the estimated $7,500 it will raise from the 2023 Mushroom Cap Half Marathon, Run2Shine, Inc. will have contributed more than $75,000 to local non-profit organizations and agencies throughout Southern Chester County and beyond in its eight years of existence. Among the recipients of this good will are Family Promise of Southern Chester County, The Garage Community & Youth Center, Genesis Healthcare, La Communidad Hispana, the Kennett Area Food Cupboard, the Nemours Children’s Hospital, Unite for Her, Young Moms and several student booster clubs at Kennett High School. 

Collectively, our chorus of humanity when positioned to do so is capable of reaching the highest notes of kindness and selflessness, and yet, our best efforts are often left drowning in an untenable rage that purports that our greatest power lay in secularism and in the great divide of our differences. It is a disgraceful narrative that nonetheless dominates our front pages and supersedes the greatest moments of our decency. 

In this season of giving, however, this editorial chooses not to fight the enormity of our ugliness but embrace the enduring fiber of our spirit to help others. In pure and righteous defiance, this editorial wishes to shine its light on Karen DiMascola, Sarah Nurry, co-organizer Kara Gibbons and the hundreds of volunteers who organize a race that takes off from the Kennett Square Borough every year and runs toward creating a better community, and one that sees the finish line ahead, where heroes and sheroes wait with cups of water and offer congratulations on our achievement.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Chester County Press.

Join the race. To make your contribution to Run2Shine, Inc. and learn more about the Mushroom Cap Half Marathon, visit