Once again, the annual Veterans Torch Relay through the streets of Wheeling in honor of America's veterans will serve as the emotional kickoff for the 36th Annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Run and Walk race weekend.
The event begins at 4 p.m. Friday at Monument Place in Elm Grove and follows the final 6 miles of the 13.1-mile Half Marathon course. And this year, organizers are reaching out in an effort to make the event more inclusive of the general public.
The relay event traditionally has featured local celebrities and groups of veterans from various eras from World War II through the current conflicts in the Middle East. That hasn't changed, but Race Director R. "Scat" Scatterday is inviting anyone who wants to accompany the torch bearers to the finish line at 14th and Main streets to do so.
Meeting in front of the Federal Building on Chapline Street in Wheeling to discuss Friday's Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Veterans Torch Relay are, from left, World War II veteran Gunnery Sgt. Dale Sigler of the Moundsville Marine Corps League, Jones Wolin & O'Brien Detachment 771; Cpl. Joe Foster of Shadyside, representing the Gulf War; Race Director and Vietnam veteran R. 'Scat' Scatterday; and Staff Sgt. James Koonce, a Korean War veteran.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
From the watchful neighbor who calls police to report suspicious activity, to the heroes on United Airlines Flight 93 who sacrificed their own lives to save others during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the responsibility of keeping America safe in today's society is one that falls on each and every citizen -- and Scatterday said the change is a recognition of that fact.
"We're all watching," he said. "We're all more aware. ... It's a sign of the times and of the future."
Scatterday said those wishing to join the procession may do so at any point, but the preferred location is at the windmill on Stone Boulevard at about 5:15 p.m. Scatterday noted there will be support transportation available for veterans or their family members who may need assistance in getting to the finish line.
The relay begins at 4 p.m. with Wheeling interim Police Chief Mike Vankirk, Deputy Chief Martin Kimball and Detective Greg McKenzie carrying the flame from Monument Place onto National Road and to the Interstate 70 overpass, where they will hand it off to Ohio County Sheriff's Deputies Kris Waechter and Rich White.
At Wheeling Park, they will pass the torch to Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce President Terry Sterling, who will carry it to Howard Place and Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron.
Herron will pass the torch to Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie at National Road and Washington Avenue, and he will carry it to Wheeling Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge at the top of Chicken Neck Hill. She will proceed to Perkins Restaurant and Bakery and hand it off to Brenda Danehart and Rachael Dierkes of WTRF-7.
Those two will continue along National Road and meet with a group of Gulf War and current veterans led by U.S. Army Col. Paul Hicks at the bottom of Wheeling Hill near Generations Restaurant and Pub. They will carry the torch to the windmill on Stone Boulevard and a group of Vietnam veterans led by retired U.S. Navy Commander Robert Kota.
Kota and crew will carry the torch to the historical marker where it will be accepted by Korean War veterans led by retired U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jim Koonce. At the former Lincoln School, they will hand it off to the World War II veterans, led by retired Gunnery Sgt. Dale Sigler. They will proceed down Chapline Street to the Federal Building, where Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., will carry the torch through the home stretch to the finish line.
At about 6 p.m., there will be a brief ceremony including a speech from McKinley and the playing of "Taps" by the West Virginia Army National Guard.
Scatterday said the annual Torch Relay is a fitting tribute to our veterans and has become an integral part of Wheelings Memorial Day activities over the years.
"Lest we forget, the purpose for Memorial Day is based on the involvement and the sacrifices of our armed forces. ... While it's a time for family gatherings and community events, we need to not lose sight of the original purpose of this weekend," Scatterday said.
Other race-related events Friday evening include the Tiny Tot Trot at 6:45 p.m. on 14th Street; the Ogden Fun Run at 7:15 p.m., stepping off from the top of Wheeling Hill; and the Ogden Mile at 7:30 p.m., also beginning at the top of Wheeling Hill.
On Saturday, late registration for the Half Marathon begins at 6 a.m. in front of WesBanco Arena. The race gets under way with the Half Marathon Walk at 7:30 a.m. and the Half Marathon Run at 8 a.m. The 5K Run/Walk begins at 8:15 a.m.
Awards will be presented at about 11:30 a.m. at the Heritage Port amphitheater.
In addition to the Ogden Newspapers, major sponsors for the event are United Bank, The Health Plan, the city of Wheeling, the Ohio County Commission, Project BEST and Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration.