The older we get, the more a high school reunion begins to feel like a true rite of passage.
Maybe it’s because we get there, look around and realize time inevitably changes everything, including the number of classmates still with us.
Tom Renner, Central Bucks West High School Class of 1977, recently attended his 40th get-together and knew going in things wouldn’t be the same as they were 10 or 20 years ago.
But when he learned that nearly 10 percent from his class of about 500 had departed this world, it caused more than a moment of reflection.
Soon after, he decided to add something to his intention to run in this Sunday’s Philadelphia Marathon.
In fact, he will compete wearing two black ribbons on his singlet – with one honoring the Class of ’77 men and one the women who are no longer here.
It’s his way of saying never forget that life is precious.
“I just want people to know two things,’’ he says. “Number one, don’t take life for granted. I think that’s kind of the message I want to convey here.
“And two, don’t take your health for granted. When you’re 18, you think you’re going to live forever. And you just don’t. The people (from the Class of ’77) that passed away, it’s a mix of all the different things you have here in society.’’
Renner, a former track and cross country runner in high school, mentioned several classmates, including one young man who died from a brain aneurysm, a car accident fatality, a woman who had ovarian cancer and an old friend who battled cancer for some 32 years before passing two years ago.
“I’m just astonished at so many who have passed away. It’s kind of a melting pot of things that can take out your life,’’ Renner says. “I feel very fortunate to run and still do this at this age.
“I look at my classmates and see how many are gone and it makes me very sad. We’re a tight community up in Doylestown. We all grew up on the playgrounds together. It’s sad some of these people are gone.’’
Renner, a Chalfont native now living in Stamford, Conn., has reconnected with high school coach Greg Wetzel, who donated a CBW track singlet for Renner to wear in the marathon. Renner set a personal best of 3:17 in 2001, which qualified him for Boston. He hopes to requalify on Sunday.
The Temple grad is a former newspaper editor now working in public relations. His wife, Robin, a veteran of eight marathons, is also running the Philadelphia 26.2-miler.
Thanksgiving Day race
The 28th annual Customers Bank Thanksgiving Day 5-Miler, directed by the Bucks County Roadrunners, is a great way to get your holiday off to a fast start.
The course starts and ends at Summit Square Shopping Center in Langhorne, with some of the mileage held in scenic Core Creek Park.
Charity partners include Matt’s Mission, Parkinson Alliance, Courier Times Give A Christmas and Advocates for the Homeless & Those in Need.
Information and registration are available at bcrrclub.com.
Department of corrections
Last week we wrote about the plight of Bill Amisson, the veteran Bucks County cyclist who was struck by a car in Newtown Township back on Oct. 7.
The 59-year-old Amisson is making progress in his recovery but still needs financial assistance for his medical expenses.
A YouCaring fund has been set up: https://www.youcaring.com/billandcharlotteamisson-983792
Once again, please donate to this worthy cause. As we mentioned, if you are a cyclist, you know this could have happened to any of us on the dangerous local roads.