To honor the memory of his brother, Keys Island Runners founder Daniel Garcia, III, is working with members of his Key West, Fla., group to produce the inaugural Frankie Gutierrez Memorial Fun Run. Based out of Key West, the weekend-long event is scheduled for August 27-29.
In 2019, Guitierrez died after battling lymphoblastic leukemia. He was 33 years old.
Keys Island Runners has a Key West-based event in the planning stages for late August. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
As previously reported on speedonthewater.com Garcia founded Keys Islands Runners two years ago via Instagram. The group now has more than 20,000 followers.Garcia said he plans to produce the event annually.
“I wanted to start a memorial fund in my brother’s honor,” said Garcia, who grew up in Key West and even played varsity football for the city’s public high school team “I want to use this fund to help others in the Keys and Keys Island Runners boating community and those who randomly become sick—and also be able to provide local scholarships to those graduating from our alma mater, Key West High School, the ‘Home of the Fighting Conchs.”
In late June, Garcia and friends from Key West participated in the Sarasota Blast On The Bay Fun Run in Southwest Florida. While there, he met Lucy Nicandri, the executive director of Suncoast Charities for Children, in person for the first time. (Garcia and Nicandri had previously spoken by phone.) With the weeklong 2020 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival cancelled as a result of COVID-19 pandemic concerns, Nicandri banded with other Sarasota community members go Blast On The Bay to help make for fundraising dollars last in the cancellation.
The experience inspired Garcia to push forward with his idea for the memorial event.
In February, Keys Island Runners organized a day trip to the Islamorada sandbar.
“Going to the Sarasota Blast on the Bay Fun Run put on by Lucy Nicandri helped me tremendously,” said Garcia. “She made us a media sponsor because we now have 22,000 Instagram followers. Since the event she has welcomed me with open arms and has helped me any way possible. She has helped show me how this all works and I can’t thank her enough.
“Keys Island Runners was started with no intentions of it becoming what it is today,” he added. .”So I’ve been learning as I go.