‘Race for a Reason’ Celebrates Its 20th Year
By SHAWN RINE
WHEELING — Like everyone else, Ron Green finds it hard to believe. What started out as a way to honor his late sister, Debbie, has turned into something even Green couldn’t have imagined.
At 7 p.m. on Saturday, the Debbie Green Memorial 5K Run/Walk for Leukemia will go off in Wheeling. It will do so for the 20th consecutive year.
”It’s wild that’s it’s been 20 years already,” Green, the race director, said of the race that starts and finishes at the Wheeling Heritage Port. ”It seems like it was just yesterday (it started) in some ways.
”When you look back, I think about where I was then and where it is now and how far it’s come. Some of the top runners in the world are coming to race for a reason.
It’s not by stroke of luck that the ‘Race for a Reason’ has become so popular both locally and elsewhere. After all, it’s been named one of the top 100 5Ks in the world by mybestruns.com. Green pours his heart and soul into the event, beginning to work on next year’s festivities as soon as the current one concludes.
But it’s a labor of love.
”I spend a lot of time on it and sacrifice. I make time in my schedule,” Green said. ”I deal with a little less sleep and I get stuff done that way.
”But I haven’t tired or bored of it. We’re always thinking about what we can do to make it better.
”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And we sure aren’t broke.”
Throughout it’s 20-year history, the Debbie Green race has gone from what started as the dream of one man, to a family affair. That, along with meaning of the race, which is to help local individuals 36 to date — who are battling cancer by any means necessary, annually makes this a special weekend.
”It just became a part of me and my family’s life. My kids and my wife have been supportive,” Green said. ”They are included in a lot of stuff.
”I am trying to move my boys into positions so they can have some leadership and learn what it means to be responsible.”
Many things have taken place during the life of the race, but one constant remains: its meaning.
”That is the best part of this for me, is getting to pay tribute to my sister and helping out the people in the valley like they helped us out in 1972,” Green said of the year Debbie passed away. ”Whether it just being an ear to listen to or someone to give advice, that is what I am most proud of.
”I have a great committee and two great assistant directors in George Macek and Terry Whitecotton.
”It’s come natural to us.
”It’s never been about me. I know I have thrust myself into the spotlight, but somebody had to. That has been something that has been pretty unique.”