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Busy weekend planned in Elizabethton

John Thompson • Sep 17, 2015 at 6:34 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A busy weekend is planned for Elizabethton, with the biggest footrace of the year in the city and a celebration of the opening of a new pavilion at Kiwanis Park, complete with a free lunch for kids and the first 150 adults.

Saturday marks the third annual Race for Wandell 3K competitive race and fun run and walk. The race will get started at 9:45 a.m. at East Side Elementary School and head toward downtown Elizabethton.

Race organizer Kelly Geagley said the race seems to grow bigger and better each year. “For this year’s race, we have 40 sponsors. Depending on how we do with online registration and race-day registration, this might be our biggest race yet. That is a big claim for a race that already has the most participation for any Carter County race, with more than 1,000 expected.

Geagley said the race always has so many volunteers that things go smoothly. ”There is always a lot of community participation and so many people enjoy it, but I wish we didn’t have to do it, because of the reason for it,“ Geagley said. The race was first organized three years ago, shortly after then East Side Principal Josh Wandell was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Wandell was not only a popular principal, he was also an athlete who played college football at the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University. He loved running, which made the first Race for Wandell a natural fit. The first race was big success, and Geagley said it continues to grow, especially with attracting more sponsors.

One of the sponsors is Shirley’s Restaurant in Butler, which will be making donations to the Wandell fundraiser for each plate of the restaurant’s home cooking this weekend. The restaurant has also donated a handmade quilt for the silent auction and drawing that is held after the race. A drawing will be held for the quilt. Tickets for the drawing are $5 each and available at the race.

Another unique service at this race is massages offered by chiropractors who are sponsors. They will bring massage chairs to the race and offer massages following the race, with all proceeds going to help the Wandells.

Other new additions this year include a 61-foot long obstacle course for children and several large inflatables. The family pet is also being remembered with free treats and water for dogs while their owners compete in the race. While the humans get Race for Wandell T-shirts, the dogs will get Race for Wandell dog scarves.

Early registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday at East Side. The event gets started at 9:45 a.m. with East Side student Jayci Bowers singing the national anthem. New East Side Principal Travis Hurley will say a prayer. The race gets underway at 10.

The race is a good way to start the day in Elizabethton. Then it is off to a free lunch at Kiwanis Park, located at the corner of West G Street and Carter Boulevard. The ”Party in the Park“ is being sponsored by Northeast Community Credit Union and the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department. It will go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This community event for youths features inflatables, face painting, games, Mr. Bill Entertainment, a dunking booth and a live DJ. Children 12 and under will also be treated to a free lunch at the new Don Tetrick Pavillion, which was built by the Kiwanis Club of Elizabethton. The lunch will be served from noon to 1 p.m.

"We greatly appreciate Northeast Community Credit Union for their support and we are very excited about this event and have been looking forward to it for some time," said Mike Mains, Parks and Recreation director. "It's just one of many events this department has planned over the past several months and we hope families will take advantage of this opportunity by bringing their kids out to a great event in beautiful park.”

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