Spokane, WA—Don Kardong, Founder and Race Director of the Lilac Bloomsday Run, will retire following the 2019 Lilac Bloomsday Run on May 5. Jon Neill, an attorney in the law firm of Eymann Allison Hunter Jones P.S., Lilac Bloomsday Association Board Member, and Bloomsday’s Elite Athlete Coordinator, will take over as Race Director upon Kardong’s departure.
"It's been a privilege to be associated with Bloomsday all these years, and to have worked with so many great people who donate their time to make it happen. I may be leaving the Race Director position, but I plan to continue to be involved after I retire,” said Kardong.
Kardong has been an instrumental force in the development of Bloomsday from its birth in 1977. What was initially a small idea hatched after a chance meeting in the elevator of City Hall between Kardong and Mayor David Rodgers, has blossomed into a Spokane tradition. Kardong served as President of the Lilac Bloomsday Association from 1982-1984 and over 20 years as Elite Athlete Coordinator before accepting the position of Race Director in the summer of 2004. Since Bloomsday’s inception, Kardong has been at the forefront, leading Bloomsday’s mission of providing a celebration of spring and physical fitness to runners and walkers of all ages and abilities.
“As we prepare for the 43rd running of Bloomsday, we have a great deal to be proud of,” said Bloomsday President Mark Starr. “Don Kardong is a household name in Spokane and highly regarded in the national running community. With Don’s retirement we are excited to welcome Jon Neill as our new Race Director. Jon has worked closely with Don and the Spokane community for many years now. His knowledge of Bloomsday and its inner workings is second to none. I’m excited to be a part of this team and look forward to Bloomsday’s future.”
Neill will take over as Race Director following the 2019 Lilac Bloomsday Run. His involvement with Bloomsday began when he served as the race intern in 1995 and 1996 while a student at Gonzaga University. Neill was appointed to the Bloomsday Board of Directors in 2003 and served as President from 2005-2007. Since 2005, Neill has been Bloomsday’s Elite Athlete Coordinator, overseeing the invitation, travel, and hospitality of dozens of the world’s best runners, and just recently he spearheaded the revival of Junior Bloomsday, a run for elementary aged runners to be held in April 2019.
"I couldn't be happier with Jon Neill taking over as Race Director,” said Kardong. “Jon's contributions began when he was an intern at our office during his college days, and since then he's helped in almost every facet of the event. He'll do a super job as Race Director."
“Don Kardong has been a tremendous leader for our organization,” said Neill. “His vision, generosity, and energy have helped transform Bloomsday from a race to a prized community event that is embraced by the entire region. You would be hard pressed to find an individual who has done more for Spokane and its citizens than Don Kardong. It has been an honor to work with the Lilac Bloomsday Association over the past 20 plus years as a volunteer. I am humbled by the opportunity the LBA Board has given me, and I am excited to build from Don’s incredible success.”
Through his leadership and enthusiasm, Kardong has left a permanent mark on Bloomsday and Spokane. It is hard to imagine Spokane without Bloomsday, and we have Kardong to thank for that.
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