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Honoring Tyler: An Email Interview with Bethany Sansonetti on the Tyler J. Sansonetti Memorial Race

In this moving email interview, Bethany Sansonetti shares the story behind the upcoming Tyler J. Sansonetti Memorial Race. She discusses the thought process behind organizing this event, the choice of Life Changing Service Dogs For Veterans (LCSDFV) as the beneficiary, and her hopes for the race’s impact. The interview was conducted by Craig Hodgkins.

Craig: Bethany, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us via email. Can you start by telling us about Tyler and what he meant to you?

Bethany: To be honest, in the two years since Tyler’s passing, I’ve rarely spoken about how I feel. Writing this is challenging, but it’s important to share who Tyler was. Tyler was hilarious—if I listed his best qualities, humor would take the top five spots. His ability to make everyone laugh was incredible, and I’m grateful for the countless memories that still make me laugh out loud. Besides his humor, Tyler was highly competitive and naturally athletic, which definitely influenced the decision to organize a run in his memory.

Craig: How did the idea of the memorial race come about?

Bethany: After Tyler passed, we chose to have a small funeral limited to immediate family and close friends. At the time, being around a large crowd felt too overwhelming. But over the past couple of years, the idea of doing something larger kept coming to mind. We wanted to create an event that would honor Tyler’s memory and give people who couldn’t attend the funeral a chance to remember him. I also wanted it to be a less emotionally charged occasion for our family to spend time remembering Tyler. That’s how the Tyler J. Sansonetti Memorial Race came to be. I hope it will reflect Tyler’s personality—fun and full of life—and allow people to come together, share memories, and celebrate him.

Craig: Why did you choose LCSDFV as the beneficiary for this event?

Bethany: We lost Tyler to suicide, and saying we were devastated doesn’t even begin to cover it. The days and months following his death were filled with intense emotions that are hard to describe. One of the most challenging things for me has been coming to terms with the pain and hopelessness Tyler must have felt. It’s something I pray no one else ever experiences. This thought drove me to start this event with the hope of preventing even one person from choosing Tyler’s path. I want this race to raise awareness and let those struggling know there are options, resources, people who care, and most importantly, hope.

When considering organizations to support, LCSDFV stood out. Tyler was a huge dog lover. Our first dog, Thumper, a white boxer, was inseparable from Tyler. Later, we found Jake, a pit mix, who despite causing some chaos at home, was deeply loved by Tyler. The concept of pairing dogs with Veterans brings me immense joy. Knowing that a Veteran could have a dog to provide unconditional love and support during tough times felt like the perfect way to honor Tyler. For Tyler’s funeral, we collected donations for K9s for Warriors, but this time, we wanted to support a local organization, which led us to LCSDFV.

Craig: What do you hope to achieve with the Tyler J. Sansonetti Memorial Race?

Bethany: I hope this race will be more than just an event. It’s a celebration of Tyler’s life and a beacon of hope for others. We want people to come together, not only to remember Tyler but to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. By supporting LCSDFV, we also want to highlight the incredible impact service dogs can have on Veterans’ lives. Ultimately, if we can prevent even one person from feeling the way Tyler did, we will have achieved our goal.

Craig: How can people get involved and support this event?

Bethany: We encourage everyone to join us for the Tyler J. Sansonetti Memorial Race. Whether you’re running, walking, or simply attending, your presence will honor Tyler’s memory and support a cause that was dear to his heart. The race will take place on October 5, 2024, from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, at Bushy Run Battlefield, 1253 Bushy Run Rd, Jeannette, PA 15644, USA.

Here’s the schedule for the day:

  • 9:30-11:00 AM: Registration
  • 11:00 AM: Run Begins
  • 11:15 AM: Walk Begins
  • Post Race: Food Trucks, Live Music, Awards Ceremony, Outdoor Games
  • 5:00 PM: Event Ends – Thanks for coming!

For more details and to register, please visit the Event Registration Page.

We look forward to seeing everyone come together to share memories and make a difference.

Craig: Thank you for sharing Tyler’s story and the inspiration behind this event. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Bethany: Just a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported us and this event. Your participation means the world to us and helps keep Tyler’s spirit alive. We can’t wait to see you at the race and share this special day with all of you.

Join us in honoring Tyler’s memory and supporting a cause that brings hope and healing to Veterans. Register today for the Tyler J. Sansonetti Memorial Race and be part of a meaningful and impactful event.


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