Racing To Inspire: Wandell to serve as Crazy 8’s 8k Run torch bearer

Published 9:24 am Friday, July 8, 2016

Contributed Photo  Josh Wandell and Team Wandell compete in a recent race.

Contributed Photo
Josh Wandell and Team Wandell compete in a recent race.

When deciding on who should be the torch bearer for the 27th annual Crazy 8’s 8k Run, race co-directors Hank Brown and Natalie Whitlock said the decision to select Elizabethton’s Dr. Josh Wandell was an easy one.
“We like for the torch bearer to be someone that is inspirational,” Whitlock said. “And I think that there is not many people more inspirational than Josh. Somebody who is 100 percent healthy and is having a hard time with a race may see Josh and his determination and be inspired by him.”
Wandell, who was diagnosed with ALS three years ago, is now confined to a wheelchair. Wandell, however, is not letting that get in the way of his love for the sport of running. During the Crazy 8’s Run, which will be held on July 16 in Kingsport, Wandell hopes to bring awareness to ALS as members of Team Wandell push him in the race.
”For media purposes, I think it’s a great honor and it puts ALS in the forefront” Wandell said in a comment about being the torch bearer. “The more we put it out and get people thinking the closer we will be to a cure. Also I hope people sense the joy and peace I have, and that can be my testimony for Jesus Christ.”
There will be roughly 15 Team Wandell members on hand during the Crazy 8s race to help Wandell, and one of those members is Wandell’s good friend T.J. Brown. In the past, Wandell and Brown ran together in both Elizabethton and Johnson City before they gradually began running in races together.
“We ran 5Ks, 10Ks, Half-Marathons,” Brown said. “We were going to do a marathon, but then he was diagnosed.”
In March, however, Wandell and Brown were able to finally take part in a marathon together when Brown and other members of Team Wandell pushed Wandell in the Tobacco Road Marathon, a fast and flat race held in Cary, N.C. Now, with a few other races under their belts, Brown and Team Wandell are excited to continue helping Wandell on his mission to inspire and raise awareness.
“We like the fact that this is really a great honor,” Brown said. “I think we will be there with, I think, 4,000 of our closest friends. We want to cross the finish line with Josh as quickly as we can. He is a competitive dude.”
The Crazy 8s 8k was the last race Wandell ever competed in, and the former East Side Elementary Principal said he sees the irony but is honored to be the torch bearer. Wandell also said he is grateful to Team Wandell for all their help.
“The recognition needs to go to Team Wandell, they do all the work,” he said. “I just show up. They sacrifice their time and their own PR’s (personal records) to push me. They are the real heroes.”
The Crazy 8s 8k Run will be held at the J. Fred Johnson Stadium at Dobyns-Bennett High School on July 16.

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