Postal services director organizes race for a cure

Ella Burnside

The light shined brightly in Bowling Green on Saturday, despite the clouds that blocked the sun’s rays. More than 100 people, of all ages, gathered in Phil Moore Park to participate in a 5K run and 1-mile walk raising money and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

    For 50 years, St. Jude’s has advanced cures and means of prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. It is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance, according to the hospital’s website.

    Marshall Gray, director of WKU Postal Services, started planning the race three months ago with the intention that it would be the kickoff to his own fundraising efforts for St. Jude’s half-marathon in Memphis, Tenn., this fall.

    Gray’s running career began as an effort to lose weight and has since become another way he chooses to serve others and give back.

    Gray, who has participated in 14 half-marathons in the last three years and lost 95 lbs. since he began, said he loves giving back.

    “One of the first half-marathons I ran was for St. Jude’s, and we ran through the St. Jude campus,” he said. “Kids were standing outside thanking all the runners as they passed by. I thought there was no better way to support St. Jude’s than to host a race locally.”

    Representing the “red and white” at the 5K was Delta Sigma Theta sorority and their Bowling Green alumni chapter.

    According to the sorority’s chapter president, Rauneisha Mayes-Reid, the Deltas place great emphasis on service.

    Mayes-Reid, a senior from Cincinnati, said their philanthropic efforts include domestic violence, breast cancer, “The Tabitha Briggs Run,” Habitat for Humanity and St. Jude.

    The girls arrived at the park at 7:15 a.m. with bottles of water for the runners.

    The race began at 8 a.m., and 21 minutes later, 10-year-old Eli Alvey, a member of the Greenwood Elementary School Gator’s cross country team, passed the finish line and earned the first place trophy.

    “I run the 2K for the cross country team, but I just run 5Ks for fun,” Alvey said. “It was the first annual, so I just wanted to try it out, and it’s for a good cause.”

    Rodney Williams and Peter Brandt, the 2nd and 3rd place winners respectively, ran the race in preparation for the Medical Center 10K Classic they will be running in a matter of weeks.

    Brandt said the 10K has been going on for 40 years and that he ran it 30 years ago.

    Along with handing out water, the Deltas were stationed at checkpoints throughout the race, where they directed runners and encouraged those participating.

    “We were personal cheerleaders today,” Mayes said. “People were like, ‘Thank you; thank you so much.’ It was really rewarding for us to hear people saying ‘thank you’ to us.”