Dream for Eileen run honors deceased alumna



Lizzy Heurich

The Eileen Shea Lupton Memorial Foundation, in team with Villanova’s chapter of Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania, hosted the seventh-annual Dream for Eileen 5km Run/Walk this past Saturday during Homecoming Weekend. The race commemorates the 2003 School of Nursing graduate Eileen Shea Lupton, who passed away in June 2003.

The two organizations aim to get students, faculty, staff and alumni to register for the race, especially alumni from the Class of 2003. The race is held every year during Homecoming Weekend in order to get more alumni participation. Dream for Eileen had over 100 people registered this year, compared to the 69 people who registered last year. Over $1,000 was raised through registration fees and donations. Sophomore Frank Dougherty and junior Nicole Rocha were the first male and female runners to finish the race.

The proceeds from the race, which include money from donations on race day and the $10 registration fee, go to the Eileen Shea Lupton ’03 Endowed Memorial Scholarship for Nursing, which was established by the Eileen Shea Lupton Memorial Foundation to award to one nursing student annually. The Dean of the College of Nursing, M. Louise Fitzpatrick, and the Director of Financial Assistance, Bonnie Lee Behm, choose one nursing student to receive the scholarship. The student must display certain faculties, including being in good academic standing, demonstrating the need for financial aid and showing a passion for being involved with social needs outside of a classroom setting. 

The proceeds from Dream for Eileen are deposited into a trust fund that generates interest, which goes toward funding the scholarship. 

Lupton passed away in a tragic porch collapse at the home of a friend in Chicago in June 2003, only a couple of weeks after she graduated from Villanova and before she could start her job as a pediatric nurse. 

The story made national headlines, as 11 others died in the accident and over 50 people were injured. The porch was deemed structurally sound; the cause of the collapse was most likely due to the fact that twice as many people as recommended were on the porch. 

The Eileen Shea Lupton Memorial Foundation and the Dream for Eileen 5km was created after the tragic accident in order to honor Lupton’s life. According to Lupton’s father, Patrick Lupton, who was in attendance at the race this past weekend, it did not take long after his daughter’s passing to create the foundation. Money and donations were pouring in, and he and his wife had to decide what to do with the money.

“The generosity of the community was outstanding after the accident,” Patrick Lupton said. When deciding what to do with the money, the Luptons reflected on their daughter’s life.

“Eileen loved Villanova so much,” Lupton said. “We wanted to give back to Villanova somehow.” 

Back home in the Chicago area, the Luptons also host another annual race, the Lake Forest Run/Walk, which will be held the Saturday after Thanksgiving this year. This race also donates money and proceeds to the Eileen Shea Lupton Memorial Foundation. According to Patrick Lupton, the race raised over $29,000 last year.

“Eileen was very much a spirited young lady,” Patrick Lupton said. “She enjoyed campus life and befriended all different circles of friends. She was a personality. Our entire family is so grateful to the University for showing us love.” 

SNAP is primarily responsible for the planning and organizing of the Dream for Eileen 5km. Senior nursing student Kaitlyn Singlemann, the Athletics Liaison for SNAP, played an important role in this year’s Dream for Eileen 5km.

“A lot of people on campus can relate, especially this year, with the death of a peer,” Singlemann said. “It’s good to know that something good can come out of something tragic.”