‘A true testament to him’: Fishtown Beer Runners celebrate late founder with memorial run

On Saturday at Philadelphia Brewing Co., more than 200 people paid tribute to David April, who founded the group more than 15 years ago.

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Runners on the corner of Frankford Avenue and Hagert Street

The Fishtown Beer Runners lined up at the corner of Frankford Avenue and Hagert Street for a run around the neighborhood on April 27, 2024. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

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The Fishtown Beer Runners paid tribute Saturday to the group’s founder, David April, who passed last year from cancer.

April created the group more than 15 years ago after being inspired by a study on the rehydration benefits of beer after exercise. Since then, hundreds of people have become members, something April said he never thought possible.

More than 200 people gathered Saturday to celebrate his legacy, and of course, run around the Fishtown neighborhood, which April called home for years.

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Carolyn Redmond helped coordinate the event and was overjoyed by the turnout.

Carolyn Redmond speaking
Carolyn Redmond helped get the runners organized ahead of their run on Saturday in honor of the group’s founder David April. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

“I’ve been seeing faces that I haven’t seen in years, people that flew here that I didn’t know were coming,” Redmond said. “It’s really overwhelming. It’s a true testament to him.”

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Josh McNamara met his wife through the group. The couple, along with their baby boy, were among the crowd gathered at Philadelphia Brewing Co. to honor the late founder.

Liz McDowell, Josh McNamara and their son Hank
Liz McDowell, Josh McNamara and their son Hank are one of the many families the Fishtown Beer Runners has played a role in starting over the years. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

“David April was about just bringing people together,” McNamara said. “Initially with running and beer and from that, finding deeper friendships and tighter friendships and meeting new people and running new places, and trying beer, as well.”

Longtime Beer Runner Johanna Heskamp-Goode said April rarely found people he didn’t want to talk to.

Johanna Heskamp-Goode speaking
Johanna Heskamp-Goode is a longtime member of the Fishtown Beer Runners, and discussed David April’s knack for bringing others together. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

“When I look around a crowded room, I just see a crowd,” Heskamp-Goode said. “When David looked around a crowded room, he genuinely saw friends and future friends.”

The group is looking to raise $250,000 for the David April Emergency Patient Support Center with Legacy of Hope. CEO Mike Rowe said during his battle with cancer, April would go out of his way to help other patients, even hours after his treatments.

Legacy of Hope CEO Mike Rowe
Legacy of Hope CEO Mike Rowe reflected on the times David April would go out of his way to help cancer patients despite the disease taking its toll on him. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

“David’s legacy will reverberate and live on for generations, and through the support center we can honor his legacy in perpetuity,” Rowe said. “David, I love you, and we’ll never forget you.”

The group meets each Thursday in the Fishtown neighborhood. It’s free for anyone to join.

Saturdays just got more interesting.

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