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Jamie-Lee Josselyn is the Associate Director of Penn's creative writing program. Credit: Ethan Wu

Jamie-Lee Josselyn, who was the pre-major academic advisor of College sophomore Blaze Bernstein, will be dedicating her participation in the Blue Cross Broad Street Run on May 6 to the Penn student, who died in a homicide in January.

Bernstein went missing over winter break on Jan. 2 before his body was found in a park in Orange County, Calif. a week later. Authorities ruled his death a homicide, and a ProPublica report later found that his alleged murderer has ties to a neo-Nazi hate group. Following his death, Bernstein’s parents set up a memorial fund in his honor and urged people to “do good” in his memory.

Credit: Mona Lee

Josselyn, who is also the associate director for recruitment for Penn's Creative Writing Program, said she hopes to carry forward this philosophy of Bernstein's parents when participating in this race.

This will be the sixth time Josselyn has participated in the 10-mile-long race and the first time she will run in partnership with a charity. She is raising money for Back on My Feet, a partner of the Blue Cross Broad Street Run and a national nonprofit organization that helps homeless people by promoting running. 

Josselyn's goal is to raise $2,500. 

Since Bernstein’s tragic death, his parents, Gideon Bernstein and Jeanne Pepper, have called on people to carry out acts of kindness, or to “Blaze it Forward,” in honor of his life.

“Blaze’s parents have been so inspiring in terms of their own efforts to ‘Blaze it Forward,’ as they say. I wanted to join them,” Josselyn said.

Josselyn added that she chose the Blue Cross Broad Street Run because she wanted to honor Bernstein in Philadelphia, his second home outside of Orange County, Calif. 

“[The Blue Cross Broad Street Run] feels very special to the city and central to the city’s identity,” Josselyn said. “Since I was thinking about acknowledging Blaze outwardly in Philadelphia, that was the race that made the most sense.”

Josselyn has previously fundraised over $13,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in memory of her mother, who died by suicide when she was 12 years old. She dedicated her first marathon, the 2007 Philadelphia Marathon, and the 2016 New York City Marathon to her mother.

Mingo Reynolds, director of administration at Penn's Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing and Josselyn’s close friend, will also participate in this year’s Blue Cross Broad Street Run for Back on My Feet. Last year, she raised $10,372 for the organization after running both the Philadelphia and New York City marathons.

Reynolds said she first gave Josselyn advice on running marathons 12 years ago while having lunch together, and since then, the two have had an “intense bond over running.”

“Jamie-Lee is looking beyond her sense of loss to do something kind and good in [Bernstein’s] honor. I think she’s a very inspiring person,” Reynolds said.

In February, Josselyn coordinated a campus memorial at the Kelly Writers House for Bernstein and published a guest column in The Daily Pennsylvanian entitled “For Blaze,” in January.

Just before winter break, Bernstein was elected to serve as the managing editor of the food magazine Penn Appétit. As one of the integral members of the publication, Bernstein’s friends have often recalled his love for food.

“I very much know that Blaze would not be very interested in the Broad Street Run […] Blaze would be more interested in where I was eating brunch after the race, so I’m also going to make sure to treat myself to an excellent meal in Blaze’s honor after I complete the Broad Street Run,” Josselyn said. “That will feel really good as well.”