Cardinal Spellman principal to ‘Achieve 100’ miles in 24 hour run

Daniel O’Keefe, principal at Cardinal Spellman High School, completed 27-miles when this photo was taken Friday morning.
Photo by Walter Pofeldt

Those of us that run every morning know that it can be grueling. But imagine doing it for 24 hours straight. Impossible, you say, well one Bronx high school principal plans on proving it can be done.

In a highly ambitious effort to raise money to support Cardinal Spellman High School’s Sports and Student Activities Programs, principal Daniel O’Keefe, a star athlete, has taken the challenge to run non-stop for 100 miles on the school’s track, starting on Friday, November 7 at 6 a.m. and finishing around the same time the following morning.

The student body has been asked to voluntarily join O’Keefe, 49, in this cause by having their family and friends sponsor the 24-hour run. This remarkable event has been dubbed ‘Achieve 100’.

The principal revealed the significance behind this Herculean task.

“I constantly challenge the students at Spellman to achieve their limits and beyond,” stated O’Keefe. “I tell them to never let anyone say something is impossible. I challenge them to give 100%, to achieve 100%, and to be present 100% in everything they do.”

Every student has been called to accomplish this goal. While O’Keefe, who has served as principal for four years, undergoes this incredible undertaking, students were asked to help raise $100 from sponsors. Every cent donated would directly benefit both them and their school. For additional information and to contribute donations to this worthy cause, visit www.cardi‌nalsp‌ellma‌n.org.

“I was pondering different ways of making that message real for them as I was on a long run one day,” explained O’Keefe. “Then it came to me that I could make ‘100%’ so much more real to the students by attempting something that most, if not all, would assume is impossible. I decided that I would run 100 miles continuously on the Spellman track. I would challenge myself mentally and physically, but I would also challenge the students to participate in the spirit of the event.”

As an experienced athlete, he is determined to accomplish this goal given his training as an ultra-marathoner.

This past May, O’Keefe persevered in the 23-hour Keys100 Race in Florida and has experience running for 50 and 100-mile length races.

Last year, he traveled to Vermont and Virginia to compete in races and runs ultra-marathons biannually.

‘Achieve 100’ differs from previous runs the principal has performed due to its continuous, circular nature.

“He feels confident that he will be able to accomplish this,” explained Jennifer Rivera, vice president of advancement. “He has been preparing physically, spiritually, and mentally for this event and is being optimistically cautious while also believing in himself.”

So far, the students have being fully embracing the spirit of this extraordinary trial in wearing t-shirts proudly emblazoned with ‘Team O’Keefe’ and ‘Achieve 100’ to support their principal and school.

“The initial reaction when people first heard this was shock and that was the purpose behind it,” she divulged. “His message has consistently been about giving 100% all of the time in everything these students do and they have gotten that message because it’s been made tangible through ‘Achieve 100’. They are very excited for this and there will be numerous opportunities for them to participate.”

Rivera explained that people would have the chance to join O’Keefe on the track. Students were able to cheer on their principal from the sidelines and even Cardinal Spellman High School’s faculty and staff are supporting this initiative by counting off the laps, preparing food, and participating alongside O’Keefe in the ‘Achieve 100’ run.

During a follow-up interview conducted on Monday, November 10, Rivera revealed O’Keefe achieved 100 miles at 5:49 a.m. on Saturday, November 8 as over 1,000 people cheered him on.

The audience, comprised of students, alumni, parents, community members, faculty and staff, and the local fire department, came out to lend their support. According to Rivera, over 100 people contributed online donations and the school received an anonymous donation of $100,000 for its programs.

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