Middle distance runner Shannon Osika was recently awarded a USATF Foundation Grant in memory of Frederick W. Lambert. The grant was made possible through the generous donation of Heidi Keefe, a dedicated friend and donor to the Foundation, and a personal friend of Foundation Director Mark Lambert.
Fred Lambert, who passed away in August of 2018, was a discus thrower and shot putter at the University of Michigan during the 1962-65 seasons, a period in which Michigan won three Big 10 Track & Field Championships. Fred was a native of New Jersey, where he was a multiple state champion in the shot and discus, setting the state record in the discus in 1961. Keefe made her donation knowing that Fred was a lifelong track and field fan and that the sport is important to the whole Lambert family. On her gift, Keefe reflected “I know how important the Foundation is to Mark and how important this sport was to Fred and all of the Lamberts, having attended track meets with all of them. I’ve met Foundation athletes at some of those meets, and was really taken by them. I wanted to give to the sport and to honor Fred in a way that would be meaningful to him and his family.”
In selecting Shannon Osika, Mark Lambert worked with Foundation Executive Director Tom Jackovic and Associate Director of Development Trixie Saumsiegle to identify a Foundation athlete with attributes in common with Fred, and who Fred would have admired. Shannon was an easy selection. Her University of Michigan connection, outstanding character and personal warmth, along with her achievements and promise on the track made her a natural pick. Osika has excelled in the middle distances as a collegian and as a pro. In 2017 and 2018, her first two years as a pro, Shannon has set PR’s of 2:02.36 in the 800 and 4:06.17 and 4:25.47 respectively in the 1500 and Mile, posing her intent as a formidable contender in those disciplines. Based out of Ann Arbor, Shannon trains with True Blue Elite, a club composed of U of M track alums. Learning of her selection for the memorial grant, Shannon remarked, “It is a tremendous honor to receive this support from Heidi, the Lambert Family, and the USATF Foundation as I work to advance my professional running career and bring my athletic performance to the next level. I am incredibly humbled to be a recipient of a grant whose namesake was a man of distinguished character, honesty, loyalty, and philanthropic spirit. I am forever grateful to the Lambert family and to past leaders in track and field like Fred who have paved the way for future generations of athletes to follow their dreams and carry on the rich American tradition of elite running.”
Mark Lambert, who informed Shannon of her selection, stated, “It is an honor to select Shannon as the recipient of this grant. She and my dad share a love for the University of Michigan and track and field. She is a wonderful runner, a fantastic person and a perfect recipient of a grant in my dad’s name. All of the Lamberts are deeply touched by Heidi’s generosity and kindness in making the grant possible. All of the Lamberts, along with Heidi, look forward to cheering for Shannon.”