Community rallies for a run on Turkey Day to honor Hudson youth

Union Leader Correspondent
November 24. 2017 4:33AM
Runners take off Thursday during the annual Zach Attack 5K Fun Run/Walk at Alvirne High School. Proceeds go toward the Zachary M. Tompkins Football Stadium project in Hudson. (CHRIS GAROFOLO/?UNION LEADER)

HUDSON — Hundreds gathered on Thanksgiving morning, on what would have been Zachary Tompkins’ 19th birthday, to honor the memory of the young Hudson football player who died unexpectedly in his sleep in March 2010.

The annual Zach Attack 5K Fun Run/Walk moved from the dog days of August to Turkey Day this year to allow more of Zachary’s family, friends and loved ones to participate in the event. Proceeds go toward Zachary’s dream: building a youth football field in his town.

A fifth-grade student at Presentation of Mary Academy, Zachary died of a genetic heart condition when he was 11.

“It’s unbelievable the support that we get,” said Mike Tompkins, Zachary’s father. “It helps out a lot to see the support that we have, especially since we haven’t gotten too far with the field. Everyone is still pushing and we got a lot of great people who continue to show up and help.”

Shortly before Zachary died, he envisioned a stadium for the Hudson-Litchfield Bears, his youth football team. His family has pushed for help to make this dream a reality in his hometown.

“It’s sort of a bittersweet day because today’s his 19th birthday. I’m glad to get all these people together on Zach’s birthday,” Tompkins said. “It makes it a little easier on us.”

Before settling in for turkey and pumpkin pie, hundreds of runners lined up on the Alvirne High School campus for the race, which followed a course around the neighborhood.

Runners layered up with extra jackets and winter hats before the race, some waiting in their vehicles to keep away from the chill for a few minutes. Nearby on the Alvirne field, teenagers played flag football.

Jenna Bradish, an Alvirne senior on the cross-country team, grew up with Zach. She said he was a “great kid” and that she is happy to participate annually in the 5K.

“I think everyone in the community coming here and running is such a great thing. I enjoy running, and I think this is such a great thing to do for Zach,” she said.

While the Zachary Tompkins Memorial Field has raised roughly $300,000, organizers say there remain several obstacles.

Michael Carbonneau, one of the directors for the project, said the town of Hudson leased a 13-acre parcel off Industrial Drive for the field, rent free for 25 years, but progress on Zachary’s vision has slowed.

“We’re not there yet,” said Carbonneau, whose son Justin was good friends with Zachary.

The foundation has managed to continue bringing in funds, most recently $17,000 through the annual golf tournament. Still, Carbonneau said the organization is committed to raising money for the goal and is seeking other avenues, such as more private donations.

“It’s going to take a lot of money to get this project up and running,” he said. “We’re going to keep moving. ... We’re getting a lot of support from the community.”

Human InterestOutdoorsHudsonLitchfield

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