WHEELING - Many people have been helped by or play a role in making the Debbie Green Memorial 5K a resounding success each summer.
Unfortunately, some of those people have passed on during the course of the 16-year history of the race.
While those individuals may not be at the race Aug. 17, director Ron Green will make sure they're rightfully recognized.
Dino Smith, Kris Klubert and Randy Stephens
"One opportunity I have with this race is to affect lives in a positive way," Green said. "This is our way of helping those families to somehow get through and deal with the death of a loved one, by showing them how much we all care."
In a two-month span, three people - Randy Stephens, Dino Smith and Kris Klubert - associated with the race in one capacity or another, died. All will be recognized Friday, Aug. 16 as the Green Mile will be dedicated in their memory.
"All three have touched me and this race," Green said. "Their lives affected me in a positive way and it's been a tough time. They were all three wonderful people from wonderful families."
Stephens died after a battle with cancer, Smith had battled illness for several years and passed away this past spring, and Klubert was killed tragically in Virginia as he awaited deployment as a member of the United States military.
"Randy had so many friends and he dealt with cancer in such a positive way; Dino was always looking to help and volunteer with the race, and even when he was sick, he would do his best to come or at least find someone to help in his place. Kris was always willing to help people and give back to the community. He was ready to go and serve his country, which meant a lot to him," Green explained. "It's just hard to believe they're all gone."
Along with being recognized at the Green Mile on Friday, each will have a race number retired in their honor prior to Saturday's 5K race.
"I've spoken to all of their families and they're thankful and excited about this," Green said. "It means a lot to them and it means a lot to me to be able to do this."
Along with Stephens, Smith and Klubert, a number will also be retired for Undo Sparachane, Betty Nick and Allison Martin, of Bellaire, all of whom were big supporters of the race.
"We won't forget people like that," Green said. "I don't ever forget the good things that people do for me and this race."
All told, there have been 11 numbers already retired.
The race No. 118 won't be issued this year either. It's being taken out and sent to the Boston Athletic Association to pay tribute to the Boston Marathon bombings in April. The 2014 Boston Marathon will be the 118th annual event.
"We're sending it to them to show that we're not going to let terrorism stop us," Green said. "We all need to be vigilant about things, but we're not going to stop what we do in this country because of some terrorists. The show will go on."
Though the race is just under two weeks away, Green believes the participation could be up for both the 5K and Green Mile.
"We're getting a lot of people signing up already," Green said. "On Aug. 7, the fee increases to $25, so we're encouraging people to get their applications in early. We've had a lot of teams sign up and I've seen a lot of new names in the registrations we've already received."
Plenty of entertainment is on tap for the Green 5K weekend. Trey Ickes, Taylor Porter and Guy Franklin Christian Modern Rock and Pop Band will all be performing throughout the weekend.
"We've got a little bit of everything for everyone's taste in this race."