Dunmoreans of the Month: Theo and Greg Zayac

By Steve Svetovich

Theo and Greg Zayac lost their three-month-old baby boy Jude to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) eight years ago. But since then, the Dunmore couple has worked ceaselessly to bring awareness to the tragedy that affects so many families.

The eighth annual “Jog for Jude,” held in memory of Jude Zayac, who suddenly and tragically passed away July 23, 2014, from SIDS, is the area’s only 5K race that raises awareness and funds for SIDS research. 

This year’s  race date is Saturday, April 23, at 6:30 pm., with a start at the Dunmore Community Center, 1414 Monroe Ave., Dunmore.

“To celebrate our return to a live in-person event,” said Theo Zayac, “we switched things up this year. This year’s race will be an evening run on Saturday, April 23, capped off by celebratory fireworks.”

The overall male and female champions will receive trophies and prizes. Medals will be awarded to the top male and female finishers in age groups ranging from 6-7 to 60 plus.

It is a rain or shine event. All registrations are final and non-refundable. The race contact is jamesmccormick jr@gmail.com.

This year’s “Jog for Jude” is the first in-person race since 2019. The last two races were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Day of registration will be available beginning at 5 p.m,

The mission of the Jude Zayac Foundation is to raise funds to support SIDS research and to enrich the lives of living children in our community in honor of Greg and Theo’s late infant son Jude.

“As always,” said Theo Zayac, “proceeds from the event will benefit Robert’s Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Saint Joseph’s Center Baby and Children’s Pantry. Two-thirds of the funds go to the Boston Children’s Hospital and one-third go to the Saint Joseph’s Center Baby Pantry.

A recent photo of the Zayacs shows from left: Theo, Matilda, Greg with Gus on his shoulders, and Gregory.

“This is a very positive thing to raise awareness and do research.

“We raised $1,000 our first year and try to double it each year. My husband’s goal is to have a total of a million dollars raised for this foundation by the tenth year.”

Prior to this year’s event, the Jude Zayac Foundation donated over $650,000 to worthy causes. There is now a named fund in Jude’s memory at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. The fund is called the Jude Theodore Zayac Fund.

Race Day is also the late Jude’s eighth birthday.

There will be refreshments, entertainment, raffles and special surprises at the event.

Supporters can register for the race at: www.runsignup.com/jogforjude. The Jude Zayac Foundation can be followed on Facebook and Instagram (@judezayacfoundation) for ways to receive the most up to date information about events and efforts in the fight against SIDS.

Greg and Theo Zayac are committed to ensuring no more children share the same fate as their infant son. “The Jude Zayac Foundation,” said Theo, “raises funds to support SIDS research and provide enrichment to children living in our community–all in loving memory of sweet baby Jude.”

Theo said research continues to raise increased awareness on SIDS. “In 2010,” she said, “a study from the Boston Children’s Hospital concluded there may be a link between brain stem abnormalities and serotonin deficiencies and SIDS. More studies like this need to be conducted to develop this theory and help find a way to detect SIDS before it kills more healthy babies.

“We are asking you to continue to honor our son, Jude, to stop SIDS in its tracks before it takes another life, and to enrich the lives of Jude’s would-be-friends and classmates.

“We hope to truly make a difference on behalf of our son.”

The Zayac couple have three children: Gregory, 11, and Matilda, 6, both students at Dunmore Elementary Center; and Gus, 4, a student at Saint Clare’s preschool in Green Ridge. The close-knit family keeps Jude in their heart always and forever.

Click this link to register for the 5K race or 1 mile jog/walk: runsignup.com/jogforjude.

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