United Cerebral Palsy Central California has lost a dear friend in Ken Takeuchi.
The 92-year-old Fresnan passed away Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.
Mr. Takeuchi was a well-known figure in the world of racing, both by car and by foot.
But to UCPCC, Mr. Takeuchi was one of the organization’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders.
While working for the city of Fresno’s Parks and Recreation Department, Mr. Takeuchi became acquainted with UCPCC with the help of board members Ed and Vonny Sturgeon, who were organizing the Brian Sturgeon Run in honor of their son who has cerebral palsy.
Mr. Takeuchi was the founder of the Valley Runner of the Year series, which helps runners earn points to get to marathons like the Boston Marathon. Vonny Sturgeon says they needed to get permission to use Woodward Park for the Sturgeon Run.
Sturgeon says, “He liked the fit.”
As a result, Mr. Takeuchi became race director for the Brian Sturgeon Run.
“Ken transformed the struggling Brian Sturgeon Run, which benefited United Cerebral Palsy, into one of the premier running events in the Valley for over 30 years,” Sturgeon says.
What was Mr. Takeuchi’s attachment to UCPCC? He fell in love with the students, Sturgeon says.
“The people whose lives he touched are impossible to count,” Sturgeon says. “He set the bar so high, it was impossible to reach. But because of his enthusiasm for life, he encouraged us all to strive for that bar.”
Sturgeon and Mr. Takeuchi were so close, he was a pallbearer at the funeral of Sturgeon’s husband.
And when both Mr. Takeuchi and Sturgeon had suffered heart ailments, they ended up participating in the same cardio rehab where they would exercise together every Tuesday and Thursday.
“If I ever missed more than one class, he called me immediately to ask what’s going on,” Sturgeon says. “And I’m not the only one he did that for – he made sure people were OK. He was such a wonderful guy.”
Mr. Takeuchi’s nephew Russ says his uncle’s passion for the organization is the reason he’s on the board today.
“He thought it would be a great organization for me to become active with,” Russ Takeuchi says. “I’m so glad that I am involved with UCP, and now I’ve got another reason to help grow the organization.”
UCPCC Executive Director Roger Slingerman says Mr. Takeuchi was a champion for people with disabilities.
“Rarely there are people who come and get involved with our programs who make such a difference as Ken Takeuchi has,” Slingerman says. “His 25-plus years of service to our organization has been invaluable.
“He will be missed, but never forgotten.”