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250 run in name of Berks boy who would have graduated this year

The 6th Annual “JK” 5K Birthday Fun Run at New Hanover Methodist in Gilbertsville celebrated the life of a New Hanover 6th grader on what would have been his birthday.

With the morning sun shining overhead on Sept. 25, about 250 people of all ages either walked or ran in memory of Jacob “JK” Karnchanaphati, 12, of Gilbertsville. Many supporters came out to cheer on the runners and walkers.

“The weather that morning was perfect, and I think this was our favorite event to date!” said Jacob’s mother, Michelle Karnchanaphati.

The 6th Annual “JK” 5K Birthday Fun Run in Gilbertsville Sept. 25 was held in memory of Jacob “JK” Karnchanaphati, 12, who passed away in 2015. Above, Jacob’s parents, Chris and Michelle, and his brother, Josh. (Courtesy of Silver Orchid Photography)

Jacob, or better known as JK by friends and family, was 12 years old when he died in an accidental drowning in July 2015. He was walking around the rocks at French Creek behind the Inn at St. Peter’s Village when he slipped and fell into the water. The JK5K has been held every year since the accident.

Photo of Jacob “JK” Karnchanphati displayed at the event. (Photo by Silver Orchid  Photography)


“The purpose of this event is to foremost recognize, honor and celebrate Jacob’s life,” said Erin Hovey, JK5K race director and friend of the Karnchanaphati family. “We want to create a legacy for Jacob that is synonymous with goodness, gratitude and service to the community.”

The remembrance event included pumpkin painting, music, raffles, a 30-foot inflatable obstacle course, food, refreshments, including a graduation-themed cake in the shape of Jacob’s name “JK” with a graduation cap.

The cake at the 6th annual JK5K celebrating the life of Jacob “JK” Karnchanaphati, 12, who passed away in 2015. (Submitted photo)

“The graduation-theme aspect of this 5K is bittersweet. So many of the family and friends that have been by the family’s side through all of it were here to mark the occasion and to remember Jacob,” Hovey said.

Jacob would have graduated with Boyertown’s Class of 2021.

“The Class of 2021 is special to us,” said Karnchanaphati. “We had lots of special touches this year, and even put the names of our 2021 scholarship recipients on our shirts as a special memoir.”

Karnchanaphati described the atmosphere at the JK5K as always family-friendly with a happy vibe.

“We have always tried to plan our event in a way that we know Jacob would enjoy,” she said. “We started the day with great music courtesy of DJ Souless, had fantastic raffles, pumpkin painting, lots of delicious food and refreshments, and an inflatable obstacle course that was enjoyed by all ages.”

A committee has helped run each area the day of the race. I addition to Karnchanaphati, the committee includes Erin Hovey, Kandice Black, Mary Jaronski, Eileen Gallagher, Crysta Peers and Amy Willson. “Silver Orchid  Photography has graciously photographed our event each year as well as our awards ceremony, at no cost.”

An active member of the Boyertown Soccer Club, Jacob’s love of soccer was also evident, including lollipops depicting a picture of Jacob playing soccer. Former teammates were also in attendance.



“It is truly an uplifting event and we want families just to have fun, catch up, and enjoy being together as a community — all while raising scholarship money for our local students furthering their education,” said Hovey.

The fundraising event benefits the Jacob Karnchanaphati Memorial Trust, which was established in 2015 by Michelle and Christopher Karnchanaphati in memory of their son to award scholarships to Boyertown seniors.

“What the Karnchanaphati family has contributed to this community in just five years is nothing less than amazing,” said Hovey. “Forty local families have received a significant financial award for their child’s college education over the last five years.”

In May, the Trust awarded $210,000 in scholarships to 21 seniors in the Boyertown Class of 2021. Each recipient received a $10,000 scholarship. Previously, two students received scholarships of $2,000 each. Then, four students in 2019 and nine in 2020 each received a $2,000 scholarship.

The JK5K raises funds for Boyertown scholarships. This year, the Jacob Karnchanaphati Memorial Trust awarded 21 scholarships to members of the Boyertown Class of 2021. Among the recipients were soccer players, pictured left to right, Nolan Peers, Matt Kerr, Nick Willson, Ethan Ferraro and Mason Gallager. (Submitted by Jen Gallagher)

“Their generosity was never more apparent than in May 2021 when they surprised all 21 applicants of the 2021 scholarship with $10,000 each, an unbelievable night to remember,” said Hovey. “It was Jacob’s graduating class, many of the recipients were friends, classmates and teammates, and several recipients of their generosity were complete strangers.”

This year, the event raised just over $22,000 which will be awarded as scholarships to Boyertown seniors who are graduating in the Class of 2022 in May.

“Just seeing that the proceeds from this race had such a significant financial impact on so many local families really helped the momentum going into this year,” said Hovey. “Our sponsors — both families and local businesses and organizations — turned out in great numbers to support this final 5k.”

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Source: Berkshire mont

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