For Matt Reno '03 and Ed DiFigilia '04, St. Mike's means family. Both alumni met their wives, Kelli Dinger Reno '03 and Lexi Robert-Difiglia '04 as students, and each has a network of friends who have stayed in touch since graduating. Reno grew up running, and DiFiglia credits his St. Mike's friends with inspiring him to take up running after college.
"I was turning 30, married with two kids and was morbidly obese," DiFiglia said. "I needed to make a change and decided running was the way to go. I dropped 100 pounds and ran my very first 5K in the fall of 2012. I never looked back."
Last fall, they coordinated the Knight Striders Virtual 5K that took place during Alumni Weekend. As the event's creators, they were looking for a way to combine their love for running and their love for Saint Michael's.
"I had run a couple of races to help raise money for charity," DiFiglia said. "For alumni like me who live far away from campus, it's hard to make it back to Vermont for big events like Homecoming, but we still want to participate."
For Reno, running is not only his passion, it's also his business. He is the founder and owner of Reno Race Promotions, a Kentuckybased marketing firm that helps race directors' get more runners at the starting line.
Last year's inaugural race saw 40 alumni and parents run a 5K during Alumni Weekend in September. Those who paid the $30 entry fee received a Knight Striders t-shirt and a thank-you note for participating and supporting Saint Michael's. Proceeds from the race went to the Annual Fund that goes directly into the College's operating budget.
DiFigilia says thanks to social media, he's kept up on his friends' running adventures and receives tips and support from Reno, Emilee Hoover '02 and other alumni.
Both men have great memories of their Saint Michael's days. For Reno, it was DJing at WWPV and the community around the college's radio station.
"I was on the station's staff for three years, so being involved behind the scenes and bringing in bands to play on-air or perform on campus was also a thrill," Reno said.
For DiFiglia, a journalism major, he fondly remembers late nights in Bergeron.
"I think my favorite memory would be staying up to all hours in the Bergeron lab getting the Defender ready to print," Ed said. "At the time it was stressful as anything, but the camaraderie with the other journalism majors I had the pleasure of working with was something special, and I'm still close with a number of them."
The duo is hoping for at least 100 participants in the Second Annual Knight Striders Virtual 5K during Alumni Weekend, September 19-20. Any and all alumni, parents, and friends are invited to run a 5K sometime during the weekend and post their time with a photo on the St. Mike's Facebook or Twitter page using the hashtags #Knight- Striders and #smcvtalumni. Ed and Matt are also encouraging people to organize group runs where they live.
"Thanks to this race, we have something we can all do together, no matter where we are," Reno said.
- Angela Aja Armour '98