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Peterborough

On the run  for a cure

RUNNING FOR KIM: Amherst man runs across NH in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who died in 2000 from Hodgkin’s Disease

  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
  • Dave Salvas ran across the state of New Hampshire in memory of Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in July of 2000 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Dave Salvas never knew Kim Costa, a 1999 ConVal graduate who passed away in 2000 following a lengthy battle with Hodgkin’s Disease.

Though he wishes he had the chance to meet her, he has instead championed her cause — step by step — in two journeys across New Hampshire.

Salvas became close friends with Kim’s dad, Barry, a few years after her death. Through that friendship, Salvas, an Amherst resident and avid runner, has learned quite a bit about Kim through stories and photos. On Friday, he deepened that relationship at a gathering with some of the people Kim touched the most during her 19 years.

Two years ago, Salvas spent eight days running 221 miles from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts state line in memory of Kim. He used the run as a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, generating about $10,000 for the cause. At the end, he gave Costa a special gift.

“He was wearing dog tags and he always had it taped up and I couldn’t see what it said,” Costa remembered. “And then at the end, he gave them to me and it said Run Across NH, North to South, in memory of Kimberly Costa.”

On Thursday, Salvas embarked on his second journey across the state in memory of Kim and in honor of others who have been affected by the disease. This time, Salvas is running from west to east, beginning at the Vermont border with a distance of 116 miles to go over four days. After reaching Dublin by the end of day one, Salvas began Friday’s run just a short trip from Kim’s final resting place on Sand Hill Road in Peterborough.

When Salvas arrived at the cemetery around 8:30 a.m., he was greeted by some of Kim’s friends, parents of friends, a former boss and some of her favorite teachers growing up.

“It was really a special day,” said Salvas. “I feel like I really connected with Kim and got to know her.”

Since Costa could not be in New Hampshire due to his commitment to run in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon, he asked people who knew his daughter the best to share their memories of Kim. With Costa in Seattle and Salvas running across NH, they had Kim covered from East to West.

“We wanted to make sure it was memorable,” said Costa. “Just so Dave could get to meet her through the eyes of other people.”

Kim’s life lessons

After 34 years in Peterborough, the Costas, Barry and Carol, moved to Kingman, Ariz., four years ago, but have kept in close touch with their daughter’s extended family of teachers and friends. So when Costa asked Joan O’Donnell, a former social studies teacher at ConVal who developed a close connection with Kim during her four years at the school, to help with Friday’s get together at Kim’s grave site, it was something she was proud to be a part of.

“It’s a distinct honor and pleasure to share our memories of Kim,” O’Donnell told Salvas.

O’Donnell told stories of Kim’s time in Youth in Government and how she had a knack for leading others.

“I have a picture of her with her Chief Justice robe on and her bald head,” said O’Donnell.

Others, like Jeanne Cilley Zarba, owner of the former Viewers Choice video store in Peterborough who employed Kim, talked of her work ethic and how she never let her disease affect how she lived her life.

“She never missed a day of work no matter how sick she was,” said Cilley Zarba.

Linda Walsh, whose daughter Anna was good friends with Kim, told Salvas how Kim lived her life the way she wanted to.

“She was full of life,” said Walsh. “She didn’t want to miss out on anything that life had to offer. She kept her spirits up to the very end.”

O’Donnell was there when Kim passed almost 13 years ago, but never saw her feel sorry for herself. Instead, O’Donnell felt Kim made the most of her life.

“[Kim] said ‘I’m not going to live more than a year...but it’s going to be a fun year,” said O’Donnell.

Valli Hannings played soccer for Costa at ConVal and remembers Kim was she was very young.

“I actually knew Kim before she was born,” Hannings told Salvas. “And we used to go over there when she was a baby.”

Richard Sanders, Kim’s middle school music teacher, remembered a model student.

“This was one bright shining kid,” said Sanders. “You’d want a classroom full of kids like her.”

Before Kim died, she asked those going to her services to wear bright colors and wanted it to be more like a party than a funeral. At her high school graduation, she addressed the audience with her “Ten Life Lessons.” It was Kim’s way of urging those in attendance to enjoy life as it comes, with her No. 1 life lesson being “make every day count.”

Along for the journey

One thing Salvas already knew about Kim was her love of butterflies, so it was not surprising that he saw plenty of them during his run. During one encounter with a butterfly, he even went as far as to say, “Hello,” which reflected the feeling that Kim was right alongside him for the journey.

“I’ve noticed a lot more butterflies than normal,” said Salvas.

The plan was for the run to take four days, averaging about 29 miles per day with each day broken up into three different runs. Salvas made it through the first three days, despite the intense heat and humidity. He got through the first two legs on Sunday, but had to stop with about four miles to go. But the journey is not over, as Salvas plans to finish the trip to the Atlantic Ocean today or Friday. He reached the $6,000 fundraising mark on Saturday.

Pushing toward $200,000

Costa ran his first marathon about six months after Kim passed. He has run one a year since for Team in Training and Saturday was his 13th overall. He has raised $171,200.03 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with an eye toward breaking the $200,000 mark in 2015. Costa was also the speaker at the Inspirational Dinner for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the sixth time he has been asked to speak.

“It’s not about the marathon, it’s not about the time and it’s not about the medal. It’s about something much bigger than that,” said Costa. “I want to take [cancer] down and when it’s down, I want to hit it one more time.”

It is still hard for the Costas. They think about Kim all the time and what the future may have held for her. But they also take comfort in all the people that still remember her and take time out of their day to honor their daughter.

“What we’re proud of is that our daughter is still touching lives,” said Costa. “She has obviously touched Dave because he is doing it in memory of her.”

They know that Kim had quite an impact on people when she was alive and the same can be said almost 13 years since she has been gone.

To donate to Costa for a future marathon, visit http://pages.teamintraining.org/vtnt/rnrseatl13/bcosta4kim.

Tim Goodwin can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 226 or tgoodwin@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @TimGoodwinMLT.

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