PHOTO CAPTION: Ken Ziobro of Whitesboro, left, accepts his commemorative brick from Cindy Dardano, director of volunteers for the Boilermaker Road Race. Ziobro and his wife Mary were named the winners of the 2023 Peter J. DeStefano Boilermaker Volunteers of the Year for their years of hard work and dedication to the race, along with WKTV photojournalist Keith Hunt, who was awarded the 2023 Les Diven Media Award for outstanding media contributions to the race. The bricks were presented to the winners as part of the annual brick ceremony inside Boilermaker Square at Butler Park on Columbia Street in Utica. The ceremony allows anyone who has purchased a brick throughout the previous year the opportunity to place it inside the replica of the Boilermaker Course that sits inside the park.
Officials from the Boilermaker Road Race awarded commemorative bricks Tuesday evening to the 2023 winners of the Les Diven Media Award and the Peter J. DeStefano Volunteers of the Year as part of the annual brick-laying ceremony at Boilermaker Square at Butler Park.
Keith Hunt, a photojournalist from WKTV was named the winner of the Diven Award for his many years of service to the race and the community. Hunt, who began his career at the station in 1972, has been a fixture at the first mile of the race, taking iconic footage of runners as they begin their 9.3 mile journey.
“Keith is very deserving of this honor for both race day coverage as well as the many features he’s helped produce for the race,” said Scott Gwilt, marketing and sponsor manager for the Boilermaker. “His unique ability to capture runner’s stories with compassion and empathy has made a huge impact on the Boilermaker Road Race.”
The award is given annually to a media personality who has a unique connection not only to the community but to the Boilermaker Race. It is named for Les Diven, a long-time sports reporter for the Observer-Dispatch and the Daily Press. This award exemplifies his passion for the Boilermaker and overall coverage of the race.
Ken and Mary Ziobro of Whitesboro are the recipients of the 2023 DeStefano Award for their years of dedication to the race through their work as coordinators of the 15K race bib pickup. The Ziobros, who began volunteering in 1993, spent countless hours coordinating other volunteers to ensure that runners were able to pick up their race bibs quickly and efficiently.
“Ken and Mary began by stuffing race packets in the basement and quickly proved to be tireless and indispensable workers,” said Cindy Dardano, volunteer coordinator for the Boilermaker. “Their efforts over the years have been nothing short of amazing and we’re so glad to be able to give them this honor.”
The Volunteer of the Year award is named after Peter DeSefano. He volunteered for many years on the Boilermaker chute crew, setting up the chutes at the start of the race, managing the ropes, synchronizing the chutes with time cards, organizing the volunteers, and more. Peter passed away in 1988, but his spirit of true volunteerism continues with the Volunteer of the Year Award.
Each of the award winners was presented with a brick which was then placed into the commemorative race course that sits across from the FX Matt Brewery in Butler Park. The annual ceremony is held for anyone who has purchased a brick in the previous year, allowing them to officially place their brick into its designated spot on the course.
For more information about the Brick ceremony, or to purchase a brick, please visit boilermaker.com/shop/buy-a-brick/