Walk to commemorate engineering student

Daina Amorosano

For the fourth consecutive year, the Brian Anderson Memorial Run, also known as the the BA5K, will take place on May 10 in Washington Township, N.J., the hometown of Brian Anderson, a Villanova student who suddenly passed away a few weeks before his 2005 graduation.

Anderson was only 21 when he died, a victim of undiagnosed heart arrhythmia.

The race has become an annual event held each year on Mother’s Day, the day of his passing, to remember his life and benefit the Brian M. Anderson Scholarship and the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes Foundation, whose mission is to save the lives and support the families of children and young adults who are predisposed to sudden death due to this condition.

Sudden arrhythmia death syndromes are genetic heart conditions that can cause sudden death in young, apparently healthy people, according to the SADS Foundation.

Just two weeks after his death, Anderson would have graduated summa cum laude – not to mention in only three years – from the Villanova College of Engineering. He was offered a prestigious engineering job position at M.I.T. Lincoln Labs.

“Villanova was his first love in life, and the Villanova community was and still is extremely supportive in keeping Brian’s memory alive,” wrote Melissa Mikus, class of 2005, in an e-mail. Mikus was close friends Anderson.

Outside of the Center for Education, Engineering and Research, engineering alumni have planted a tree in his memory.

In addition, the Villanova College of Engineering offers an annual scholarship in his name.

This year, the organizers of the race are expecting a turnout that exceeds last year’s attendance of nearly 700 runners and walkers.

The proceeds enabled the Brian Anderson Memorial Fund to award a $5,000 scholarship to a graduating senior from his hometown high school, award a $3,000 scholarship to a Villanova engineering student and make donations to SADS Foundation as well as to Mayo Clinic’s Sudden Death Genomic Research Laboratory.

The race will also raise awareness for SADS which, while often misdiagnosed as fainting spells or seizures, can be prevented if recognized and treated. It is also a family event, including a kids’ one-mile “fun run” and a family walk.

“I know a lot of kids are on campus for Mother’s Day and don’t have the opportunity to spend the day with their families,” Mikus wrote, encouraging students to register either on for the cause. “This is a great way to get some exercise and celebrate with the Villanova community and Brian’s friends.”