The parents of Kayla Bernardi, a graduate of Turlock High School who passed away after her battle with leukemia in 2015, will continue to embrace their daughter’s memory along with the community she loved during the second annual Bee Positive 5K Fun Run-Walk later this month.
“The goal of this run is to continue to have Kayla’s positive energy in our community and create a day of remembrance for her,” said Joe Bernardi, Kayla’s father. “We are just trying to keep her memory alive and encourage people to be positive.”
“Kayla was very spunky and very positive,” added Kayla’s mother Cathie Bernardi. “She appreciated life and even though she faced a lot of obstacles in her life, she really had a true sense of living in the moment.”
The Bernardis said that they decided to start the fun run-walk last year on a day that would have marked Kayla’s 21st birthday as a way to help them remember her in a positive way and bring the community together. The pair said that they will continue to host the event during her birthday weekend on the last Saturday of every January.
After Kayla passed away in 2015, Cathie said that she and Joe decided to start the Kayla Bernardi Bee Positive Foundation in her honor to support local nonprofit organizations throughout the community and provide scholarship opportunities to Turlock High School and Pitman High School.
“Losing Kayla continues to pain us in a way that is indescribable,” said Cathie. “So raising funds in her name inspires us to continue a legacy in her name and remain positive.”
During the inaugural fun run-walk last year, Cathie said that the race brought in about $14,000 for the foundation as over 650 people showed up. A portion of the proceeds from the event went to Jessica’s House, a grief support center where Kayla had hoped to volunteer before she was diagnosed with leukemia.
“We were overwhelmed because we never planned a run before and we weren’t sure what to expect,” said Cathie. “We thought if 100 people showed up, that would be good. So we were overwhelmed with gratitude for our community that they would give so much back and come out to celebrate Kayla’s legacy.”
Cathie said that she hopes to donate proceeds from this year’s run-walk to Jessica’s House again, as well as Smile Farms, which is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to providing work opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities at local farms. She also hopes to make a donation to local high schools to fund a number of scholarships.
The Bernardis also raised money for the Kayla Bernardi Bee Positive Foundation by partnering up with the Ciara Circle of Hope Foundation in September for Stroll the Lake, an event that allowed guests to walk around the lake at East Lake Ranch & Vineyards while they enjoyed food and drinks from local breweries, wineries and restaurants.
“The response from our community is so great in all the fundraisers we do,” said Cathie.
Those who participate in the fun run-walk are encouraged to wear pink in Kayla’s memory. Registration for the second annual Kayla Bernardi Memorial Bee Positive 5K Fun Run-Walk is scheduled to begin rain or shine at 8 a.m. on Jan. 28 at Joe Debely Stadium. The race will start at 9 a.m. Tickets are $25 for children and high school students, and $30 for adults. For more information or to register online, visit active.com and search Kayla Bernardi.