Danny Kassap was born and grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His family included seven brothers and sisters. He participated as a member of his country’s National Team in the 2001 Francophone Games held in Ottawa and sought refugee status in Canada on the basis of political persecution. His claim was rejected several times before he was finally accepted. He became a Canadian citizen in August 2008. That same year he competed in the London Marathon, finishing 15th. Previously, in 2004, he won the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon with a time of 2:14.50 – his first race at the distance. His time was three minutes faster than any other participant in the race.
He was running in the Berlin Marathon in 2008 when he collapsed and was placed in a medical coma for several days. When he returned to Canada he was diagnosed as having suffered a ventricular fibrillation brought on by an inflammation of the heart caused by a cold virus. He recuperated for eight months before training and then running a half-marathon almost a year to the day he collapsed.
On Monday, May 2nd, Danny Kassap died at Sunnybrook Hospital at the age of 28. The exact cause of death was not reported. He was registered to run in the Sporting Life Toronto 10K race but pulled out because of illness. Alan Brookes, Director of the Canada Running Series said of Kassap, “His passion for running and his positive enthusiastic personality were infectious. Kassap himself had said, “I really love to run”. His ultimate goal was to run the marathon in the Olympics representing Canada. “That’s my dream, he said, to be on the Canadian Team”.
Funeral Services were held at the Mount Pleasant Visitation Centre on May 7th. After the service the hearse carrying Kassap’s remains led a 3K jog around the cemetery including the 1.9 km loop between Mount Pleasant and Bayview and ended at Danny’s final resting place, a few hundred meters east of the beltline entrance. The lead vehicle traveled at about a 10 minute per mile pace and was followed by runners and vehicles.