CHRISTIAN’S SPORTS BEAT - Runners Helping Fellow Runners
By: Christian Deiss
(Hurricane, WV) – By now everyone is well aware of the disastrous flood that tore through many parts of West Virginia almost three weeks ago. The high waters not only damaged homes and business but wiped out athletic facilities, which stored equipment and uniforms for a number middle and high schools.
To assist those programs affected by the floods, the West Virginia Secondary School Athletic Commission (WVSSAC) and other school athletic programs have stepped up to help out. Bill Gillespie, WVSSAC’s Communication and Technology Coordinator told me what the schools have been doing so far, “Many schools throughout the state have donated equipment and uniforms, while other schools sent players to the affected schools to help with the cleanup process of their gyms, locker rooms and field houses.” The WVSSAC established a flood relief page on Facebook, where schools and individuals can donate money or equipment to schools in need of sporting goods.
It's not unusual for West Virginians to band together and help out each other in a time need. Gillespie told me he wasn’t surprised with the outpouring of support, “I think it just helps bring the community back together a little bit, it gives them a little bit of light at the end of what seems to be a very dark tunnel. I think it just comes down to that community support, that communities in West Virginia have, especially in the smaller areas, like the ones that were hit by the flood.” The WVSSAC has been acting as a staging area, connecting companies that are willing to donate equipment and supplies with the schools and letting them figure out what is exactly needed by each different program.
Many fundraisers have already been held and more are scheduled. One of those fundraisers is set for Saturday, July 23, the Great Teays 5k at Valley Park in Hurricane. Heading up the race is Hurricane High School’s Head Cross Country and Track Coach Eric Cooper, “We were planning the Great Teays 5K as a fundraiser for the team, but I talked to the team about donating to schools that lost everything and every kid on the team was on board with the idea to help out their fellow competitors.” If you are interested in running in the Great Teays 5K, you can go to www.tristateracer.com and sign up.
I can’t imagine how tough it would be to recover and losing everything in a flood. I agree with Coach Cooper that it is important for everyone to help anyway they can, “Obviously everyone knows how bad the situation is for the teams and it just puts everything into perspective with how fortunate we are to still have all of our equipment so I am just proud of the team members for stepping up and making sure the affected schools were taken care of because of the floods.” The high school athletic programs affected the most were Herbert Hoover in Kanawha County, Clay in Clay County and Richwood in Nicholas County, while the Elkview and Richwood middle schools lost everything.
This was really the first time I have seen a disaster as big as this affect West Virginia in so many ways. Gillespie made it clear to me how good feels about how other programs have reached out, “This just reaffirms for me the bonding between coaches and players that compete against each other every week. On the field they do battle, but when someone needs help that are the first to step up and do whatever is needed.” If you can help, you can reach Gillespie at firstname.lastname@example.org and hope to see you at the Great Teays 5K.