“After the competitive runners are through comes the fun run, and that is my favorite part,” said Geagley, “That is when the 88-year-old woman and the mother with her baby in a stroller comes out. It is just a great time for a very good cause.”
The cause is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis awareness and helping former East Side Principal Josh Wandell, who had to retire as principal because of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
”It is so wonderful how the whole community has come out for Josh,“ said Geagley, who is Wandell’s uncle.
Wandell was an outstanding athlete when he attended Elizabethton High School and played collegiate football at the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University. But Wandell was also known for his love of running, and it was a natural fit to dedicate a road race to Wandell when he announced that he was suffering from ALS.
Geagley said this year’s event will cover the same route, starting at East Side Elementary and heading downtown, then returning to East Side.
One change is that this will be the first time in which there will be teams competing. He said teams will wear distinctive outfits and can either run together or not. Professional groups and area businesses are forming teams.
Geagley said runners can register online at http://www.teamwandell.com/registration/. Registration will also be taking place at the Elizabethton High School football games Sept. 4 and Sept. 11. A booth will also be set up at Ingles Market across from the high school on Sept. 5.
“I expect it to grow this year; we have a record number of sponsors,” Geagley said. There is also a new style of racing shirt for the participants.
The event will get started on the campus of East Side Elementary on Sept. 19. The opening ceremonies will start at 9:45 a.m. and will feature the singing of the national anthem by East Side student Jacey Bowers. The race gets started at 10.
Geagley said there will be plenty of other things going on, including the return of the “lemonade lady,” a photo booth and inflatables for children.
“I am looking forward to it. It is always a wonderful day,” Geagley said.