Dr. Wandell visits Elizabethton HOSA students

Published 5:40 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Future health professionals from Elizabethton High School received a special pep talk during a recent team-building day this week.
During their lunch break at Doe River Gorge in Hampton, EHS Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) were greeted by a visit from former East Side Principal Dr. Josh Wandell.
Students part of HOSA are #TeamWandell proud, according to sponsor and EHS teacher Zach Ensor. Several of the students in attendance Wednesday helped two weekends ago during the fifth annual Race For Wandell – an event to raise awareness for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and help raise funds to Wandell’s bout against the disease.
“For him to come out here today and thank the kids, it really means a lot to them,” Ensor, who serves as HOSA sponsor with Katie Dugger, said. “There was no second-guessing it, there wasn’t any hesitation. He was excited to come out and we appreciate him taking the time out to speak to the students.”
Since diagnosis, Wandell has used his platform across the region to help raise awareness for the ALS. From the races to guest speeches, the way to combat the disease is first to know it.
The former East Side principal can communicate with a monitor and speech device and was cracking jokes with teachers and students before the discussion.
Lack of knowledge on ALS was apparent when Wandell told students about a time where someone he knew that was going to school to become a registered nurse received the text from the school that only had one page on ALS.
“ALS is a platform God gave to me to spread his love,” Wandell said.
One of the hardest things about living with ALS, Wandell told students, is having individuals treating you like your sick or dying.
“I’d rather just be a high-maintenance dad,” he joked. “Make no mistake; I’m not sick. I am far from it. You shouldn’t be saddened by my condition, celebrate life with me. I don’t want to minimize the work put in to help me survive, but the hard work makes all the times so much more rewarding.”
Wandell thanked the students for their work with the Race For Wandell and went on to explain the details of life with ALS and shared stories about life following retirement from the school system.
Friendships, community, and Christian faith has allowed a reach within the region to share the story and help raise awareness for the disease, according to Wandell.
Near the conclusion of the event, Wandell commended the efforts of the students and added that maybe one of the students in the organization could be the one to discover a cure for ALS.
“These are our future healthcare providers for the community,” Dugger said about the students. “They are always eager to get involved and serve where they can in the community. We’re extremely proud of them.”
Following the speech, students had the chance to talk one-on-one with Wandell. To learn more about the story of the former East Side principal, visit the Team Wandell Facebook page.

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