Prior to and during the early stages of Wandell's illness, he was the principal at East Side Elementary School. His struggle to continue as the school's principal and his public speaking engagements in which he discussed his struggles with the disease helped rally the community to his side.
Although Wandell's increasing disabilities eventually led to his retirement, he has continued to inspire others. The annual Race for Wandell has become a focal point for those who wish to show their support for him.
The use of a road race to support Wandell is appropriate because he was a passionate runner and athlete. He played collegiate football at the Universitiy of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University.
This year's race will be held on Sept. 23. The route of the race will be the same as it has been. It will start on Walker Street, turn right on Central, go right on Riverside Road, use the linear path under U.S. Highway 19E, connect to Main Street, cross the Doe River on the Covered Bridge, then return to Main Street by the Elk Avenue Bridge, then follow the same route back to East Side Elementary.
Wandell's uncle, Kelly Geagley, said the race continues to enjoy strong support in the community. "We have a record 49 sponsors this year," Geagley said.
Although there is still a month and a half until the race, Geagley said much of the preparation work has been completed. "We have already got the shirts and RunCorps is lined up as the official timers.
Geagley said registration for Carter County's biggest race should begin this week. He said participants may register at the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce or online at http://www.teamwandell.com/ or https://m.facebook.com/RaceForWandell.