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Matt Kjelland Memorial Run set for Sept. 24 at Alexandria City Park

The event raises funds for the Matt Kjelland Memorial Foundation.

Kjelland Race.jpg
Participants in the 2019 Matt Kjelland Memorial Run take off from the starting line, which was at Alexandria City Park.
Echo Press file photo
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ALEXANDRIA — After a two-year hiatus, the Matt Kjelland Memorial Run is set to take place this year on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Alexandria City Park.

The run was created to honor the life and memory of Matt Kjelland, who suffered from chronic Lyme Disease and clinical depression. He took his own life at the age of 31 in September of 2016. The run is also now in memory of his mother, Sue Kjelland, who unexpectedly passed away from a brain aneurysm in February of 2020.

Matt Kjelland.JPG
Matt Kjelland
Contributed photo

Mike Kjelland, Matt’s dad and Sue’s husband, organizes the event, which is a fundraiser for the Matt Kjelland Memorial Foundation. The foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, sponsors a memorial scholarship at Alexandria Area High School. It also helped purchase the signs, poles and hoops for the Matt Kjelland Memorial Courts, the basketball courts between Eighth and Ninth Avenue along Broadway in downtown Alexandria.

Kjelland Foundation and Events helps support upgrades to outdoor basketball courts in Alexandria

Mike Kjelland said the focus of the event, which will feature a 10K and 5K walk/run, along with a kids fun run, is on mental health and suicide prevention.

“After losing our son Matt to suicide, it is the mission of the foundation and the personal mission of our family, to help make an impact in the prevention of suicide in the Alexandria and surrounding area,” said Kjelland. “It is powerful to know that our financial support is literally saving lives and preventing another family from having to experience the pain associated with suicide.”

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The first race was held in 2017 with two more races taking place, one in 2018 and one in 2019. During those three years, Kjelland said the foundation has donated $25,650 to various nonprofit organizations, agencies and programs, including Campus Awareness Prevention of Suicide at the Alexandria Technical and Community College, the Community Suicide Awareness and Education Group, BIO Girls and food shelf programs at the high school and Discovery Middle School.

The fourth annual event will take place at Alexandria City Park. Here is the schedule of events:

  • 8 to 9 a.m. – On-site registration opens, along with the silent auction. There will also be an optional dynamic warm-up led by fitness professionals. 
  • 8:45 to 9:30 a.m. – A program will be held with comments honoring Matt’s life, description of the mission and accomplishments of the Foundation, announcement of special guests, general event information, followed by an inspiring song by a local vocalist. In addition, DJ Thumper will be present to provide entertainment. 
  • 9:30 a.m. – 10K run starts.
  • 9:45 a.m. – 5K run starts.
  • 9:50 a.m. – 5K walk and 1 mile family walk starts.
  • 11 a.m. – 1K kids fun run starts.
  • 11:15 a.m. – Awards ceremony will begin. 

Nolan Christenson, a 2018 AAHS graduate and one of the recipients of the foundation’s scholarships, will be speaking at this year’s event about his career and how the scholarship was a benefit to him.
Kjelland shared a blog post from a woman, Sheila Hellermann, who ran the race in 2018. She talked about how the event impacted her and she acknowledged the Kjelland family for putting on such an amazing event.

“I walked away with a deep admiration for this family and this young man,” she said. To read the full blog post, go to fromtheheartmn.com/2018/09/22/finishing-the-race/.

For more information about the race, either check out the event’s Facebook page, “ The Matt Kjelland Memorial Foundation & Events ,” or visit the race website, runsignup.com/Race/MN/Alexandria/MattKjellandMemorial5K.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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