Jan 27 2019
Scott McCloskey | The Intelligencer
WHEELING –Proceeds from the 2019 Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic will be donated toward a tribute to the region’s Gold Star families that sacrificed a loved one for the nation’s freedom.
Plans currently are being made to construct a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at Wheeling’s Veterans Memorial Amphitheater later this year. John Nanny, chairman of the Hershel “Woody” Williams Scholarship Foundation, said receiving the proceeds from this year’s Ogden Half Marathon — set for Saturday, May 25, in downtown Wheeling — will help make the dream a reality.
The half marathon, in its 43rd year, is “such a community-oriented event.. … It really means a lot that (race organizers) came forward and offered to help with this,” said Nanny, who was asked to spearhead the local project last year by Hershel “Woody” Williams, West Virginia’s sole surviving Medal of Honor recipient of the World War II battle of Iwo Jima.
The Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation is the entity undertaking the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument projects throughout the nation. As of last month, 42 Gold Star monuments have already been completed and dedicated across the country, while 45 monuments are currently in progress.
The Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon has long supported the region’s veterans, starting in 2007 with the Veterans’ Torch Run that took place the afternoon prior to the event and also including the 2014 Tribute to Veterans at Wheeling’s Heritage Port.
Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, said the race is proud to partner with Nanny and the Woody Williams Foundation on a very worthy cause.
“The Ogden Half Marathon has always been a true supporter of veterans and has tried, each year, to reflect the core meaning of Memorial Day, which made supporting an effort such as Mr. Nanny’s an easy decision,” Nardo said. “For years we’ve approached the Memorial Day weekend by focusing on families, and getting involved in this effort is just another way we can express our support to the Upper Ohio Valley.”
This will mark the 10th year the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon has donated its proceeds to a local charitable organization or cause. In 2018, the race donated to the Laughlin Memorial Chapel in East Wheeling. In prior years, the race has supported the J.B. Chambers YMCA; Augusta Levy Learning Center; the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley; the Howard Corcoran Scholarship Fund; Ohio Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Inc.; and the Wheeling FOP’s Shop with a Cop program.
Since 2010, the race has donated more than $155,000.
Nanny said Williams realized that when a loved one made the ultimate sacrifice in the military, the loss was to the entire family, so he started the memorial project about nine years ago as a way to acknowledge and thank Gold Star families for their enduring sacrifice while ensuring the fallen heroes will never be forgotten. The mission is to honor Gold Star families by building monuments in all 50 states, offering scholarships to Gold Star children, sponsoring outreach programs and events, and educating communities about Gold Star families and the sacrifice they have endured.
Jesse Mestrovic, Wheeling’s director of Parks and Strategic Planning, said the monument, which will be more than 7 feet high and13 feet long and consist of four black granite panels, will be constructed in a grassy area on the north upper end of the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater. Nanny said once his group reaches its fundraising goal, the local monument committee will plan a ground-breaking ceremony. He said he continues to reach out to local organizations, businesses and individuals to donate funds toward the project.
For those interested in making donations, checks can be made out to HWWMOHF or Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation and mailed to John B. Nanny, Marine Corps League, P.O. Box 2121, Wheeling, WV 26003. Nanny said any support is greatly appreciated. For more details, call Nanny at 304-281-2950 or reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 43rd running of Wheeling’s annual distance race is set to hit the streets on Saturday, May 25. The 13.1-mile half-marathon run and walk are the showcase events that morning, with hundreds of participants also taking part in the 5K Run & Walk for Health and the Ogden Fun Run and Tiny Tot Trot.
This year, the half marathon is part of the larger Ogden Wellness Weekend. Along with Saturday’s distance race, the Wellness Weekend will encompass the Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour, set for 8 a.m. Sunday, May 26, at Heritage Port. Then, at noon May 26, the inaugural Tough as Nails Urban Challenge, a 5-mile, 20-obstacle course through downtown, Center and South Wheeling, will take place.
For more information on the Wellness Weekend or its events — the Tough as Nails, the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic or the Wheeling Heritage Trail Bicycle Tour — visit ogdenwellnessweekend.com.