Hundreds run in 6th annual Race For Wandell

Published 5:24 pm Monday, September 17, 2018

Team Wandell continues to make 2018 a year to remember.

Months after securing a Guinness World Record, team members and other community volunteers were able to host the sixth annual Race For Wandell 3K race/fun walk over the weekend in the East Side community of Elizabethton to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease – ALS.

Even with inclement weather flaring up time to time during the race, hundreds gathered at East Side Elementary School for the race which recognizes former East Side Elementary Principal Dr. Josh Wandell, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2013.

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Momentum came early for this year’s installment according to Kelly Geagley. Geagley, Wandell’s uncle, helped coordinate the event and indicated this year was a record-breaking year in regards to financial sponsors. All proceeds from the event help with medical expenses taken in by the Wandell family.

“I can’t say enough about the community,” Geagley said. “As of last night, we had 200 registered runners and we had a bunch come in today. It’s been a blessing to see everyone have a great time and show support for Josh.”

Saturday’s event was broken into two portions — a competitive race and fun/walk.

For the race, Abraham Kibware of Kenya came away as this year’s champion with a time of 8:55 out of over 120-plus competitive runners.

But while the race featured an international vibe, the event itself had its fair share of Tri-Cities hospitality with several volunteers lending a helping hand.

“We had something for everybody,” Geagley said. “We had cheerleaders from Elizabethton, Hampton and Milligan. There were several church and youth groups that helped with the race. We also had University High and Milligan College cross country and track and field. There was also an auction, raffle, inflatables and Wallabies also stopped by and set up.”

Geagley estimated between 700 to 1,000 individuals in total stopped by for this year’s event.

And the numbers are no surprise for Team Wandell, which spent this year knocking out a World Record in March. Team member Jeff Vance pushed Wandell in a half marathon at Virginia Beach and recorded the fastest time ever recorded for pushing someone in a wheelchair — 1:35.12.

But while the world record was nice, Geagley said Saturday’s event was picture perfect with families coming together to show support for the former Elizabethton City Schools member.

“You look around and you see children having a great time and people pushing others in wheelchairs,” Geagley said. “You see the smiles and it just warms your heart.”

During the day, attendees also had the chance to stop by and visit with Wandell.

For the future, Geagley said Team Wandell set the bar high.

“It does add pressure. It only means we have to do better next year,” Geagley said with a laugh.