Cipriano Classic 5K continues to help family, community

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published June 5, 2017

 The 2015 Cipriano Classic 5K Fun Run and Walk event gets underway.

The 2015 Cipriano Classic 5K Fun Run and Walk event gets underway.

File photo by Donna Agusti

FARMINGTON HILLS — The Farmington Hills community has a tendency to look tragedy in the face and push forward, while not leaving others behind.

Tragedies like the brutal incident that changed a local family on April 16, 2012.  

Rose Cipriano, of Farmington Hills, lost her husband, 52-year-old Robert Cipriano, at the hands of their son, Tucker Cipriano, and his friend, Mitchell Young, who beat him to death inside their Farmington Hills home. 

Rose and her son, Salvatore, were severely injured during the incident. Young and Tucker were sentenced to life in prison for the crime.

The Ciprianos have two other children: Salvatore’s twin, Tanner, 22, and Isabella, 13.

The sixth annual Cipriano Classic 5K Fun Run and Walk will continue to help assist in the family’s recovery efforts and to remember Robert Cipriano’s legacy.

The 5K run will take place at 7 p.m. June 9 at the Farmington Family YMCA, 28100 Farmington Road. Attendees may register at the YMCA in person ahead of time and on the day of the race. Paper entries cost $40 starting May 27.

Proceeds will assist the Cipriano Children’s Trust. The trust supports continuing medical recovery and the Cipriano children’s daily needs. In the last six years, the volunteer-based event has raised about $225,000 for the Cipriano Children’s Trust, according to a press release. 

Jenny Birmelin, race director, knows Rose Cipriano through a YMCA swim team, where they met in the fall of 2001. 

“She was swimming on the Masters Swim Team when the tragedy happened, and we were all trying to figure out how we could help,” Birmelin said.

From those thoughts and through a collaboration with other YMCA members, the 5K fun run was born.

“We figured a 5K wouldn’t be that … much different,” she said of swimming.

Farmington Family YMCA Executive Director Kyle Anderson said the YMCA is happy to be involved.

“The Y has been doing this for six years to help support the Cipriano family,” he said, and he encouraged people to register for the event. “They are a great family, and we just appreciate being a part of such a great cause.”

Birmelin said that over the years, the event has changed. 

“We had almost 2,000 people and a whole media circus and helicopter flying overhead … just an enormous outpouring of love and support,” she said. After that, attendance decreased to about 600-800 people.  “But (it is) expected because it’s the sixth year.”

Birmelin added that even with the changes, the fun run message has remained the same: Continue to have hope.

“You see hope. If you stay at the finish line and watch Sal cross the finish line, you see hope. You see yourself get motivated, like, you can do this too,” she said, adding that if Salvatore can overcome hurdles, then others can also.

Rose Cipriano said during a recent phone interview that their family takes things day by day, and they are grateful for the community support.

“It helps keep us staying committed to our goal and to our focus,” Rose said, adding that the goal is to help Salvatore, 22, become better.

Rose said that five years after the tragedy, the community, her family and friends have helped her family grow and continue moving forward through a difficult situation.

“The constant support has kept us emotionally and financially (stable),” Rose said. She has words of advice for anyone facing tragedy. 

“Keep looking for different ways to get help,” Rose said. “Keep searching.”

Birmelin also said that the community has come together for the Cipriano family in many ways.

“It takes a lot of love and support, and people running errands with them and little things that go unnoticed,” she said, adding that the financial support is great too.

A Cipriano family statement in a press release thanked those who participated in last year’s event. 

“It was an incredible day for our family to experience all the love and support from the Farmington Hills and surrounding communities. Our whole family is looking forward to this year’s 5K,” the family statement said, adding that Salvatore has trained extremely hard and has made remarkable improvements in his strength and mobility. 

“Sal’s goal was to run at least part of the course this year,” the release states.

The statement added that Salvatore had a medical setback due to falling after a seizure, which caused him to need emergency surgery. He was in an intensive care unit and was hospitalized for over a week, the release states.

“This was our worst nightmare, but we remain hopeful, prayerful and grateful for Sal’s continuing recovery and amazing attitude,” the release states. “This race is really for Salvatore.”

Birmelin echoed similar thoughts.

“We love Rose and her family and just want to keep things going and keep the family strong,” she said.

The event kicks off with a warmup at 6:45 p.m., followed by several announcements and a message from the Cipriano family, according to a press release. The race will begin at 7 p.m. and will travel through the neighborhood surrounding the YMCA. Post-race refreshments will be available.

Registration is available online at www.ciprianoclassic.com.

Registration is available online at www.ciprianoclassic.com. People can register in person at the YMCA until June 5.

Others can donate to the Cipriano Children’s Trust on the event’s registration page at www.active.com/donate/ciprianoclassic5k.

Staff Writers David Wallace and Terry Oparka contributed to this report.