Volunteers major part of Wellness Weekend success

File Photo Members of the B.M. Spurr School of Practical Nursing at WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital were among the volunteer groups at last year’s Tough As Nails Urban Challenge presented by The Health Plan.

WHEELING –Sonya Fedorko and her family have been longtime fans of the Ogden Newspapers Wellness Weekend presented by WVU Medicine. So when she wondered if the event needed any help, she decided to ask.

“I know how hard it is to find volunteers,” she said. “So it’s easier for me to ask than for (race organizers) to be going around and looking for people.”

Fedorko and members of her family will be on the course this morning, manning one of the 10 water stations found along the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic Course. The Ogden Newspapers Wellness Weekend presented by WVU Medicine wouldn’t run nearly as smoothly if not for the hundreds of volunteers who donate their time and efforts to helping the two-day event.

Those volunteers say it’s their pleasure to assist in something that is enjoyed by thousands over the weekend.

“This weekend is a celebration of the Wheeling community and we couldn’t be happier that so many members of the Wheeling community give their time over these two days to help us put on this event,” said Perry Nardo, general manager of The TimesLeader, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register. “The Ohio Valley is a special place, home to special people filled with community spirit. Their kindness and generosity truly shines in times like these.”

Those competing in today’s Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic and the 5K Run and Walk presented by WVU Medicine Children’s will see that kindness first-hand.

They’ll be the beneficiaries of the water stations that will refresh them during their outings.

Along with Fedorko and her family – which will be cheering three of their family members running the half marathon – volunteers include Ritchie Elementary School, Main Street Bank, Wheeling Country Day School, Triadelphia Middle School, Bridge Street Middle School, Grow Ohio Valley, St. Michael Parish School and the Children’s Home of Wheeling.

Luke Hladek, assistant head of school at WCDS, has run the half marathon a few times. He knows how grueling it can be and he also knows how inspiring a little bit of applause can be for a runner trying to make it to the finish.

“Especially on the back stretch when you have that one last hill,” he said, “I know how it gives you a little boost when you hear all those people cheering and you get that encouragement.”

Employees from Bordas & Bordas and WVU Medicine Children’s will be on hand to pass out medals to finishers, as will Miss West Virginia Volunteer 2023 Emma Griffith. A group of ham radio operators also have been volunteering for the half marathon for years.

On Sunday, another army of volunteers will be out helping with the Tough As Nails Urban Challenge presented by The Health Plan. They’ll also be manning water stations and offering support. Groups scheduled to help include the Lions Club of Wheeling, Boy Scouts Troop 78, the BM Spurr School of Nursing, West Virginia Northern Community College The Health Plan, and the YWCA.

“The volunteer support we receive to assist for the race weekend over the years has been fantastic,” said Eric Anderson, director for The Tough As Nails Urban Challenge presented by The Health Plan and publisher of The Green Tab, Wetzel Chronicle and Tyler Star-News. “Their support, whether it is handing out water and Gatorade, providing directions to participants, handing out medals and wet towels at the finish line, or simply cheering on participants makes a huge difference.”

The volunteer experience doesn’t just help the competitors. Joseph Platt, clinical services coordinator at The Children’s Home of Wheeling, said the home’s kids also benefit from giving back. The Children’s Home tries to get them involved in community volunteering activities, and the home’s administrators believe the Ogden Newspapers Wellness Weekend presented by WVU Medicine is a great way to do it.

“It’s a big self-esteem booster for a lot of our kids,” he said. “When they’re able to help and, especially afterwards when they talk about it, they’re like, ‘Yeah, that guy was really cool,’ and ‘This guy thanked me and gave me a thumbs up.’ They enjoy being a part of the community and being able to help in things like this.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today