Challenge honors two in Class of 2015

by Paulomi Rao | 5/26/16 5:46pm

Over 400 participants will gather this Saturday at 10 a.m. on Red Rolfe Field in support of the second annual Memorial Challenge. The event includes a community workout circuit followed by a barbecue during which participants can reflect on the lives of Blaine Steinberg ’15 and Torin Tucker ’15, two active Dartmouth student-athletes who unexpectedly died in 2014.

According to the Challenge’s official website, the event was designed for participants to remember the ways in which Steinberg and Tucker “admirably brought the community together and how each approached challenges as an opportunity to grow.”

After concussions forced Steinberg to halt her lacrosse career, she continued to challenge herself athletically through CrossFit workouts and staying actively involved in the Dartmouth community. Tucker, remembered for his compassion for others and commitment to the Dartmouth Men’s Nordic skiing team, is being honored for his ability to push the limits of his comfort zone.

Former men’s Nordic skiing head coach, Ruff Patterson said that Tucker will always be remembered for his compassion.

One of the student leaders directing the event, Kristen Hinckley ’17, is from the same area of Philadelphia as Steinberg was. As a member of the women’s lacrosse team, she remembered Steinberg’s genuine compassion for others.

“Blaine would stop her busy day to have a full conversation with someone,” Hinckley said. “At a place where people are always busy, she truly cared about how everybody else was doing.”

Hinckley noted that the Memorial Challenge is unique because it is for all types of people — from varsity athletes to person who never go to the gym. She said that leading the event was rewarding because she worked to keep the larger vision and goals of the event prominent in all of the planning committees’ smaller tasks.

“We are really hoping to foster a sense of community — one of the main reasons why I wanted to come to Dartmouth was that everyone seemed to be involved in one shared space,” Hinckley said. “Being able to work towards a common goal is really exciting and thinking about their legacies really inspires so many people to see the challenge as an opportunity to grow.”

Hinckley said she looks forward to seeing how the event will continue in the coming years, given that many of the people who personally knew Steinberg and Tucker will graduate in the next few years. She hopes that by focusing on the shared experience, and reaching out to younger participants and donors, the Challenge will endure as an annual event.

“It reminds us of them, and re-inspires us each year to remember what they have taught us through their own actions,” she said. “Most importantly, it’s much more than just remembering their legacies. It’s about continuing their legacies.”

This year, all donations raised from the Memorial Challenge will go directly toward supporting athlete cardiac research and services at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Heart and Vascular Center. An under-researched field, student leaders of the event said they hope the additional fundraising will allow doctors to find a breakthrough in discovering early detection of heart anomalies.

Mary O’Connell ’16, a head organizer for the event, said that one of the goals for this year was to expand involvement into the Upper Valley and to increase the number of partnerships.

“I have met a lot of incredible people through the committee. For us, it’s about planning an event around working together, getting out of your comfort zone, and the power of community,” O’Connell said.

The challenge has teamed up with several sponsors in the Hanover area to increase this year’s proceeds. Their goal is to raise $60,000, almost double of the $36,000 raised last year. Hanover-based Positive Tracks, a sport-based youth development organization, will donate $23 to each student’s fundraising page once they raise $50 on their own.

“The most powerful part of The Memorial Challenge is that it is totally student driven,” said Ray Shedd, partnerships and marketing director at Positive Tracks. “They have created this amazing event where the public comes together to get active, rally a sense of community, and truly make an impact towards research at a local hospital.”

The Memorial Challenge is the largest student-run event to use Positive Tracks’ U23 Challenge program, which provides the resources to enable young people to create their own charitable athletic effort in support of their favorite nonprofit organization.

“We are so remarkably proud of the student leaders,” Shedd said. “From marketing, to the technology platform, to the fundraising, it is truly a large task to undertake.”

On campus, several clubs, Greek life organizations and extracurricular groups have created teams for fundraising and completion of the circuit challenge. As of press time this year, Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority leads team fundraising efforts with a total of $2,384. Currently, they are ranked first out of 47 teams, surpassing their fundraising goal of $1,000. Steinberg was a member of Kappa during her time at Dartmouth.

Jill Dayneka ’16 is helping lead the challenge this year after participating in the circuit last year alongside the women’s soccer team.

“It was so incredible to look around and see more than 400 people around me all focused in on the same thing,” Dayneka said. “In that moment, I noticed everyone trying to truly remember these two incredible people through their experiences, and I’m excited to share this feeling with others this Saturday. Remembering their stories, remembering them, and getting out of your comfort zone is an overall gratifying thing to be a part of.”