Share |

Saturday, July 19, 2003 -- New Martinsville, WV
Tad Fitzsimmons Memorial 5K Run/Walk (iPO Event Id#: 5750) Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6]
Past Coverage: [2000] [2001] [2002]

Kids Race
Kickin' up some fun
in New Martinsville
For four years now, the community of New Martinsville has come together to pay tribute to Tad Fitzsimmons, a local youth who lost his life in a car accident back in 1999. They gathered at Bruce Park on a Saturday evening under the pretext of a 5K race, but you quickly learn that most have little interest in competition.

Lining up at the starting line you'll find twice the number of walkers as runners. When the race begins, most of them won't be in too much of a hurry to get back to the finish. And when it comes to awards, there really aren't as many trophies as you might expect at race with so many participants.

When honoring a young man who was known for his love of God, family, friends and community, and who was specializing his studies on education for those with learning disabilities, you realize winning a 5K race isn't that important. Being surround by good friends, and being a part of a community full of wonderful people, that is something that does warrant our full attention. And so the starting signal is given for beginning of another Tad Fitzsimmons Memorial 5K.

Race Pic
A time to get together with friends
Taking up the lead in this parade was local Patrolman Bruce Smith, leading the way in his police car. What followed was a long stream of runners and walkers, friends and lovers, babies and grandparents, and all sorts in between. And making sure no one strayed off the end of the procession was the local rescue squad in an ambulance driven by Newt Higginbothom.

Setting the pace for the patrol car at the front were friends and training partners Matt Quinet and Jordan Davis. They ran together almost the entire race until Quinet made a final dash to the finish for a winning time of 16:15, just three seconds ahead of Davis. Running his own race all alone in third was Cory Baxter (17:27).

Local standout Carmen Blissit took home top honors for the ladies finishing the "flat and fast" course in 19:17. With little competition surrounding them, Ali Henderson (20:36) took second and Sarah Blatt (22:42) took third.

Race Pic
Certainly there was some friendly competition
For the race walkers that were actually in a hurry, Dave Hoskins (30:07) was continually surging to keep Jerry Goodwin (30:35) at bay. Close enough to watch the action ahead of him Bill Goodwin (30:54) walked in for third.

Just behind these three men was the quick stepping Roberta Snouffer (31:56). Not only did she take first for the ladies, she also was the fourth overall walker to finish the three-plus miles. Rounding out the top three women walkers were Brenda Colvin (36:19) and Shawna Matheny (36:42), respectively.

It wasn't until almost an hour after the race had officially started that Adam Gross, Kyle Smith and Ronald Parr where ushered to the finish line by Higginbothom's ambulance. Just in time to enjoy all the post-race festivities.

Race Pic
Who's not having a good time?
In a pavilion surrounded by ball fields, a swimming pool, playgrounds, and park benches, a delicious pasta dinner was served thanks to Jimmy Quinet and the Court Restaurant staff. And soon a race for the kids was being held in a grassy field next to what was now just one big picnic.

Next it was time to award the fleetest feet of the evening their medals, while everyone was eager to be selected as a winner of one of the many random prizes. Just more reasons to keep everyone smiling as the evening sun was setting.

And now I imagine that somewhere there is a happy soul that knows his short life was not spent in vain. Even after his passing, Tad Fitzsimmons continues to enrich the lives of those in the community he proudly called home.