That race is the Sixth Annual Race for Wandell. It includes a state-certified 3K road race and a 3K fun walk. All the proceeds from the race will help with the ongoing medical expenses for Josh Wandell, the former collegiate athlete and principal at East Side Elementary School who is battling against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known commonly as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Wandell was diagnosed with ALS in June 2013. The original diagnosis came with a life expectancy of two to five years. Josh, his wife, Tabitha, and their children, Jayla, Taylor and JT, passed the five-year anniversary of the diagnosis in June, and remain as stedfast and determined as ever.
Wandell and his family continue to live as normal a life as possible. The race is not just a fundraiser but a faith raiser, as Wandell continues to talk about his faith in God and he has delivered his positive and encouraging message that faith always beats fear.
Wandell’s efforts to continue to live a fulfilling life despite the neurological affliction that is incurable has inspired the community and led to many yard signs being placed that proclaimed “Faith over fear, Pray for Josh Wandell.” The story has inspired a large field of runners to take part in the race and a large field of less-athletic folks to take part in the fun run/walk.
This year Wandell’s story has inspired the first runner from the storied running continent of Africa to take part in the race. Abraham Kiplagat Kibware from Eldoret, Kenya, met Wandell at another race where Team Wandell competed. Kibware will be running in the race this Saturday and hopes to set a state record.
But Kibware is not the only runner hoping to set a record. Becuse the race for Wandell is one of only two certified 3K races in the state and the age groupings are very narrow, there is a great chance for many people to claim state records on Saturday.
Although Wandell still enjoys racing with his special wheelchair and his friends in Team Wandell, his uncle, Kelly Geagley, said the Race for Wandell is the one race where Wandell does not run. “He just likes to meet with all of his old friends and students,” Geagley said. “He likes to be at the finish line to watch his friends finish.”
The race starts at 10 a.m. at East Side Elementary. The route will go from the school to downtown, crossing the Doe River on the Covered Bridge and then return to the school. The fun run/walk will start at 10:30. The entry fee for the race is $30 and the fun run is $25. Registration can be made online or on race day. Race packets will be available at the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce on Friday afternoon.