Once again, an annual autumn tradition returned to Bay Ridge.
For the 35th year, the P.O. Christopher Hoban Memorial 5-Mile and 5-K Run took place on the third Sunday of September, with upwards of 800 runners competing. The race is hosted each year by Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, and it started and finished at the school while traversing the Shore Road Promenade bicycle path and Third Avenue. This is the longest-tenured fundraising event in school history.
The race celebrates the enduring legacy of late NYPD Police Officer and 1980 Xaverian graduate Christopher Hoban. On Oct. 18, 1988, the 26-year-old officer was killed in the line of duty during an undercover narcotics operation buy-and-bust.
His cover was blown when he refused to sample cocaine he was attempting to buy from three men in an apartment on West 105th Street. At that time, an NYPD policy prohibited the sampling of drugs unless an officer’s life was in danger. He was fatally shot that night.
A year later, the Police Alumni of Xaverian established the race to remember Hoban, who attended Mass and grammar school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), Sunset Park. Since its beginnings, the race has grown every year, and it now serves as a family-reunion-style remembrance party at the school each fall.
“It’s been going on since long before lots of people at Xaverian even knew what Xaverian was,” said Martin Hoban, Christopher’s younger brother and a 1984 Xaverian graduate. “I’m truly blessed by the outpouring of support and love that was given to my family through the run.”
Each year before the run, the race committee hands out recognition awards to thank community members for their dedicated service. New this year were Hoban Service to America Awards given to two living World War II veterans: Roy Richter and Tony Romano.
Xaverian’s Assistant Principal Mike Wilson, ’77, a retired police officer who is also president of the Police Alumni of Xaverian and a founding member of the race, received the P.O. Christopher Hoban Service to New York Award for his years of service and for keeping Chris’ memory alive.
“We keep telling the story,” Wilson said. “Even though these kids did not know Christopher, it’s become something that the neighborhood looks forward to celebrating every year.”
In honor of another founding member of the run, the race committee renamed the registration table after Margaret Katen, who was like a second mother to the Hoban brothers growing up. Katen passed away earlier this year, and her and her late husband’s memory will live on at the Peggy and Butch Katen Registration Table.
In addition to honoring P.O. Hoban’s sacrifice, the race also serves the purpose of being the primary fundraiser for the Hoban Scholarship, a fund organized by the Police Alumni of Xaverian that provides tuition assistance to sons and daughters of NYPD officers to attend the school. This year’s scholarship recipients — a group of four boys and girls — were on hand for the festivities.
In a tremendous show of generosity, 1966 Xaverian alum Phil Lian, a member of the school’s board of trustees, pledged to donate $50 for every single registered runner.
The race was truly a family affair from start to finish. “The run brings families together: the Hoban family, the OLPH family, the Xaverian family, the NYPD family, and the Bay Ridge family,” said Rob Oliva, ’00, the St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights, vice president of enrollment management and community relations as well as a member of the Hoban race committee.
“Chris was actively engaged in all of these groups,” he said. “Everyone knew him, and everyone loved him. Chris modeled the way by making the ultimate sacrifice, and we get to pay tribute to him not only on the third Sunday of September each year, but also every day.”
While P.O. Hoban died too soon, he still remains in the minds and hearts of many in the Bay Ridge community, especially on race day. It’s now been 35 years strong in celebrating the life and memory of this fallen hero.
“He [Chris] was such a great person,” Martin said. “It’s a testament to him that the run continues.
“So many people have been around since the beginning and continue to put in the hard work as they honor his memory. It warms my heart.”