By Darrell Wacker
VANDALIA — Nearly 200 runners took to the streets of Vandalia Saturday morning for the2nd Annual 41 HOPE Blake LaForce 5K Memorial Run/Walk. The race honors the memory of former Butler Aviator Blake LaForce who survived leukemia with a bone marrow transplant only to succumb to complications from a nervous system infection.
The 41 HOPE 5K raises money for the Blake LaForce #41 Memorial Fund, a VISIONS Endowment Fund, of the Vandalia and Dayton Foundations. The #41 Fund provides two annual college scholarships, one for a boy and one for a girl student athlete, as well for enhancing the student athlete’s experience, at Vandalia-Butler High School.
“We had almost 200 runners and walkers, almost the same number of each,” said Mark LaForce, Blake’s father and founder of the memorial fund. “With the Vandalia-Butler community’s continued support the 41 HOPE 5K is growing steadily and is a memorable time.”
The overall winner of the 5K run was Kyle Wertz with a time of 19:08. The top female runner was Sarah Glendenning in a time of 22:20. Complete results can be found by clicking the links below.
The race was sponsored by Beau Townsend Ford, Ken Spicer, Tom and Roberta Smigel, and Bob and Theresa Lonsbury as silver level sponsors; Andy McDermott, Digital Cowboy Computers, Heidelberg Distributing, Jenkins & Bevan Insurance, Mauro Orthodontics, and the Neely Dental Team as bronze sponsors; and Basic Drugs, Bloom, Crossroads Coins, Dick Fahrney, Furst Florist and Greenhouses, Heeter Plumbing, Larry & Mary Jo Mumford, Lorain HS Steelmen, Class of ’69, McDonalds, Outback Steak House, SAMS Club, Spieles Insurance Agency, Steve Drongowski, Pure Couture Prom, Butler Kickline, Don Lynam, S & R Digital Photography, Vandalia Animal Clinic, Vandalia Optometry, and the Vandalia Recreation Center.
“Many thanks go to the Butler Kickline/Vandalia Dance Ensemble girls and parents for spearheading the 41 HOPE 5K and our Committee for supporting the Blake LaForce #41 Memorial Fund to benefit Butler Aviator student athletes while keeping Blake’s legacy alive,” said LaForce. “Thank you to all of the participants, the many local and regional sponsors, Vandalia-Butler City Schools, Athletic Director Roger Bowen, football coaches Greg Bush and staff, the Board of Education, the City of Vandalia, Vandalia Fire Dept / EMT, Kohls, Dr. Jim Klosterman’s family and staff for volunteering, the Vandalia Drummer, and, WDTN Channel 2 News.”