On Kelly Watt's story

We received more letters about our August 11 story about the life and death of Albemarle High School graduate Kelly Watt than any other story in recent memory. The 18-year-old journalist and runner died after suffering heat stroke on a sweltering afternoon in late July. What follows is a heavily edited sample from the mail we received.


I graduated from Albemarle High in 2002, and I know how everyone gets when a tragedy happens– they all pull together like one big family. What Kelly's friends and family did for him, running in his memory, was so touching. I did not know Kelly, but from the article I felt like I did know him a little.

Janine Kaestner


The memories of Kelly's life provide comfort to all of us who lost a friend, a teammate, a family member, or just an acquaintance, and your article captured the essence that was and will always be Kelly Watt.

George M. Heeschen


I had only recently met Kelly Watt at a couple of races, but even with that brief introduction, I could tell that he was someone special. His life and his determined efforts are inspirations to me as I work with my wife to raise our children. Kelly is gone, but his impact will be felt for a long time.

Kevin Cox


In our sport, we often hear of fatal cases of heat stroke, but it is rare to read about them in someone so young. Your article brings a very important perspective to the condition. No one, regardless of age, is immune to the dangers of heatstroke.

Jean Knaack
Executive Director
Road Runners Club of America
Columbia, MD


We greatly appreciate your article about Kelly Watt. Both of our sons are runners– one runs for William & Mary, and the other ran against Kelly in high school. And so we feel a little closer to the Watts' tragedy as a result. I've sent the article around to several of our family and friends, running families and otherwise, in part as a warning about heat-related effects in running and similar sports.

Dave Kearney


I'm a runner past his prime with memories of what it's like to thrive as a top competitor. Doubtless Kelly passed by me on a couple of trail runs.

Kelly Watt passed away prepping to become a member of one of the most competitive running programs in the country at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg. I did not know Kelly personally, but I knew of him through his coaches, and thus I knew of his will and his work ethic that eclipsed his athletic abilities.

Kelly took his last strides looking forward to one more race day. We will never know why Kelly was not granted one more race, but we know what was in his heart.

Darrell J. Howard