GREENFIELD — Most times, a running event is about little more than time, distance and accomplishment, but Saturday’s “A Run to Remember” is not just another 5K race to the tape; it’s a celebration of three young lives.
Zachariah Lett was concluding his sophomore year at Greenfield-Central High School when he lost his life in an auto accident.
Todd Lewis was a G-C graduate in the class of 2006 who lost his battle with cancer the following October.
The same day Lewis’ friends and family were mourning his death, Benjamin Culver lost his life in another car accident.
“These three young men were absolutely instrumental in our community,” said G-CHS track coach Jan Hacker.
They were standouts, Hacker said, shining examples of the area’s young people and the best of what the community could be.
To keep their memories alive and continue to benefit the youth of the area, the young men’s families held an inaugural run last year to bolster scholarships in their sons’ names, raising money for senior students to pursue opportunities their sons did not have the chance to chase, such as college and careers.
Last year, nearly 200 participants showed up to run and remember, raising approximately $5,000 for the scholarships.
This year, registration started slowly, but the numbers have picked up in the past few days, and organizers are looking forward to a similar if not greater field for the second running.
“It was slow to begin with, and we were a little worried, but now it’s back and almost up to the same number as last year,” said Paula Culver, Ben’s mother.
As was the case last year, organizers have no specific financial goal for the event.
“The money is secondary,” Culver said. “We didn’t want it to be like it felt like a business. It’s just good family time and a great day for the families to celebrate the lives of these young men.”
The 5K run will utilize the G-CHS track as well as the adjoining cross-country course, with the one-mile walk occurring entirely at the high school’s track.
This year’s run was given a boost when the G-CHS track program stepped in to play host to the event, providing facilities, equipment and expertise and making the race virtually a turnkey event for organizers.
“We just wanted to step up and help,” Hacker said. “It’s a beautiful thing the families are doing. In the face of grief that is immeasurable, they’re willing to do this to help others.”
A good percentage of last year’s entrants were walk-ups on race morning, and Culver said she expects a repeat of that this year.
However, assistance from the Greenfield-Central Youth Basketball league will give those interested in pre-registering an opportunity to sign up early online.
Race packets will be handed out prior to the run, but Michael Theurer of McCleerey’s Sporting Goods said early packet pick-up will be available from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the store at 22 S. State St. in Greenfield.
Though a number of other organizations have signed on to help, Culver said the event can always use volunteers, especially given the forecast for heat Saturday.
“We may want to increase our water stations for this year,” Culver said.
Regardless of the temperatures, organizers say Saturday’s run/walk is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the best of the community – past, present and future.
“It’s a great community effort,” Culver said.
“I not only had the opportunity to teach those young men,” Hacker said, “I had the chance to coach them as well. It was just a blessing.”
IF YOU GO:
What: “A Run To Remember” 5K run/walk.
Where: Greenfield-Central High School, 810 N. Broadway St., Greenfield.
When: 9 a.m., Saturday; walkup registration/packet pick-up begins at 7:30 a.m.
Cost: $25 per participant
Who wins: Scholarships in the names of Zach Lett, Todd Lewis and Benjamin Culver and the Greenfield-Central High School track program.
For more information and to register online, go to the Greenfield-Central Youth Basketball website at www.gcybb.com or contact Paula Culver at (317) 372-8460.