Wheels for Wandell: Runners come out to participate in benefit race
Published 1:36 pm Friday, April 29, 2016
“I am very blessed to be a part of this community, and God is good all of the time.”
That was Dr. Josh Wandell’s reaction to the 88 runners that came out to participate in the Wheels for Wandell 5K, a benefit race that was held Thursday on the Tweetsie Trail at Elizabethton High School.
Wandell was diagnosed with amoytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2013. While fighting his battle with ALS, Wandell, the former principal of East Side Elementary, has made an impact on many in the area with his testimony and motivational speeches. Before his diagnosis, Wandell, now confined to his wheelchair, was an avid runner who participated in many races in the southeast. Thursday’s 5K, organized by RunCorp free of charge, was a way to help raise the money needed to buy Wandell a custom race chair so he can again compete in races.
Through donations and registration fees, $2000 was raised, said RunCorp volunteer Netta Vogt, who worked to get the race in action.
“I didn’t know what to expect because it is on a Thursday evening,” Vogt said about the turnout “I knew that Josh has made a huge impact in Elizabethton and Carter County. . . And it is pretty exciting to see everyone come out.
Being a runner her self, Vogt knows the feeling of wanting to get out and compete, and said she was happy to help Wandell.
“I know how important it is to be able to get out there and run,” she said. “It is great that we were able to help Josh.”
The first person to cross the finish line Thursday was Elizabethton’s Jeff Vance. However, Vance, who had heard Wandell’s testimony while attending East Side church, said the race was not about finishing first, but instead it was about helping someone who has made an impact on him.
“This is all about Mr. Wandell,” Vance said. “He is a God sent man. He is a blessing to all of us. He has inspired many in this town.
The second person to cross the finish line was Christin Lowe, the fastest female runner on the day. Lowe’s husband, Michael Lowe, is a physical therapist and has worked with Wandell. Christin Lowe was at the Mar. 15 Tobacco Road Marathon in Carey, N.C., where Wandell finished his first marathon with the help of family and friends. Lowe said that she wants to be able to help push Wandell in future race because he has been a big inspiration to her.
“He has really inspired me,” she said. “I didn’t know he was a runner until later. I want to be apart of helping push those races. So I figured I would start today.”
Team Wandell member Kelly Geagley, who is Wandell’s uncle, said that the race chair has been order and is expected to be here in June. The chair, which had to be custom made, cost $7000, and the $2000 raised by Thursday’s 5K went toward the total cost.
“The money for the cart was pledge within a month, and the money from this event put us over the top,” Keagley said.