It’s been nearly four years since Silas “Sy” River Bennett lost his 8-month battle to terminal cancer, but his mother continues to keep the voice and vision of her son alive.
This past Saturday, Oct. 6, the first ever Sy’s Fund, “Strong as a River 5k Walk/Run,” was held at Keene State College.
People traveled from near and far and congregated outside of the L.P. Young Student Center at Keene State College to enjoy the fresh fall day and uplifting music before beginning the 5k walk/run to raise money to help those battling cancer.
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Bennett’s mother, Lorraine Kerz, said, “I feel that Silas was just such an inspiration, that if I can carry on any little tiny piece of that to do justice to his memory and keep his legacy going then that would be great.”
Local organizations gave full support to the fund, donating time and money to help in creating a very special community event. One distinctive table that was set up happened to have similar goals in mind with Sy’s Fund, called Joy’s Network.
In January of 2010, Kimberley Diemond created a local volunteer organization based in Keene, N.H., called Joy’s Network in remembrance of Diemond’s mother Joy who died in August, 2009, after a quick and intense battle with terminal liver cancer.
“When my mom passed away she asked me to carry on the things that we were trying to do, so I made her a promise and this is what it’s turned into,” Diemond said.
Joy’s Network provides care packages and monthly deliveries as well as offering support programs to patients and families affected by cancer in New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region.
“Somewhere along the way I learned about Sy’s Fund and I really wanted to meet Lorraine [Kerz] because we started our organizations in memory of loved ones around the same time and now we are just supporting each other. We have our booth set up but we are also helping volunteer for the registration for her event. We are going to be pairing up to do coordinated fund raising in the future,” Diemond said.
Among the participants stood Beth Eldredge. Eldredge attended to walk in support of Bennett, a friend for many years as well as her friend Jayk, who lost his battle to testicular cancer this past year.
“It’s just such a great organization that does wonderful things for young adults as far as letting them live out the rest of their lives the best way they can and giving them those comforts they might not be able to have otherwise such as being able to Skype with somebody while they are having chemotherapy,” Eldredge explained.
Eldredge continued and stated Bennett as an “old soul.”
She said, “He just never lost his passion for life even when he was really ill and I think that’s what she’s trying to instill in all of these events.”
Bennett was a journalism student at KSC when he was diagnosed with cancer, and up until his final days he was working toward his goal of graduating with a journalism degree.
Even during his darkest moments, Bennett never seemed to lose his zest for life.
“Ten days before his death he went to Target to buy swim trunks, because that summer he had every intention of scuba diving, he just kept looking forward and that was such a lovely gift,” Kerz recalls.
After Bennett was diagnosed with cancer, he didn’t want to dwell, he was going to live every day to the fullest. He began shooting a documentary on himself shortly after diagnosis.
The documentary has now been nominated as a global online film festival documentary on cultureunplugged.com, titled “The Man behind Sy’s Fund.”
“I hope that the people on Saturday will recognize how important their support is and as importantly I want people to walk away saying wow, we had a really good time today,” Kerz said.
Sy’s Fund is a national organization created in memory of Silas Bennett by his mother, Lorraine Kerz.
The organization benefits young adults between the ages of 18-39 battling cancer by funding meaningful gifts to help make life a little brighter during treatment.
Megan Markus can be contacted at