WILLIAMSON — The fourth annual “Kickin Butt” for Crohn’s disease, 5-k run/1 mile walk, in honor of Jean Stanley, was a success in more ways than one.
West End turned into a multi-colored wave of runners once again on Friday evening as 139 participants turned out to help raise awareness to Crohn’s disease. The event has gained momentum over the years as many have banded together to help bring awareness to a disease that has caused heartache to many around the region. One of the event originators, Tonya Cool, began the event after the passing of her mother, Jean Stanley; who battled the disease for over 20 years.
Crohn’s disease has been on the rise through the turn of the century. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation it is estimated that 1.4 Million Americans have Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, a separate but equally debilitating disease, and in 2004, Crohn’s Disease was the cause of 57, 000 hospitalizations.
Locals and visitors from as far as Norfolk, Va. gathered at the Williamson Fieldhouse to help bring attention to this cause, and bring attention they did, as brightly colored runners could be seen throughout West End and around the borders of U.S. 119.
Susan Hagel traveled eight hours from Norfolk to participate in this years event, not to mention she was the three time reigning champion of the women’s 5k. Hagel jokingly said, ” I am looking for a ‘four-pete’ this year. Shelly Francis may be my biggest competition, she is pretty fast.” Hagel continued by saying, “I had a really good drive in this time, not too much traffic and it was nice. I come every year because I love this race and I love this cause, seeing so many people come together to help support this is just amazing.” Hagel battles Crohn’s disease herself, which makes winning the race for the fourth time in a row in the women’s section all the more sweeter. Hagel finished with a time of 23:58.4. to put her in first place of the woman’s section.
Cool said, ” Susan has became a friend to us all that are involved in this race. I don’t even remember how she heard about us but she just showed up and we all immediately took up with her. She’s such an inspiration; she drives eight hours to get her and runs this 5-k like it’s nothing, but with Crohn’s Disease it’s a really big deal. It used to be such a thing for my mom to make it to Pikeville, we would have to stop 20 times so she could use the bathroom before we got there. Susan drives eight hours like that, runs full marathons like that, and lives her life like that. It’s just such an inspiration because even though she has Crohn’s, she doesn’t let it affect her life in a negative way, she doesn’t play the pity card at all for it and that’s just so special.”
The number one over-all finisher was Jerry O’Neil, a native of Pikeville, Ky. O’Neil finished with a time of 21:25.7 which was nearly a minute faster than the second and third place finishers, Tim Caudill and Duane Porter; respectively.
Cool said, “I think everything went really well, we didn’t have the numbers we were hoping for but we were happy for the people that did show up. We got enough sponsorship from area businesses to help pay for the cost of the race, so everything extra goes directly to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.”
The race also featured a virtual run. A virtual run is when anyone from anywhere can sign up for the race and be mailed a medal and t-shirt from the “Kickin Butt” for Crohn’s Disease 5-k run/1 mile walk, and they can run the race anywhere they want and then provide the information back to the event organizers here at home.
Cool said, “We offered everyone the virtual run this year, it’s something that a lot of other races have been doing and it’s a great way to get the word out about our little race, it’s something that we will continue to offer from year to year. We are thinking about offering another virtual run with the medal and shirts that we have left over.”
There was also a free concert held after the race by the band ‘Sons of FM’. However, Cool stated not many people attended the concert. Cool said, “I was kind of disappointed that not many people showed up for the concert. I know people in this area have been depressed because of how things have been with the economy and just the way we are forced to live in this area. Times are really tough and when our one, main, industry left it really hurt everyone. But, there are a lot of good things still going on that I don’t believe people are able to see yet. We have a lot of good going on around here, and people are still doing great things to try and make this place less gloomy. I thought we would have a better turn out for the concert considering it was free but, I think if we keep at it people will eventually see that this area and our home town is not such a lost cause.”
Cool finished by saying, “I just want to thank everyone who has helped and supported us in this, everyone who has participated to help us continue to educate people on the disease, and all the support we have received to help continue to donate to Crohn’s Disease research.”
(William plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at firstname.lastname@example.org on on twitter @sidplaster.)