WELLSVILLE - When Tim Long talks about plans for the second annual "Dash for Mat's Bash," set for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at Village Hall, he gets a little emotional.
The father of four started the 1.5-mile run/walk last year in honor of his cousin, Mathugh Johnston, who lost his battle with leukemia in 2007 at the age of 15. Mathugh would have graduated with Wellsville High School's class of 2011.
However, it wasn't his cousin, so much, that had Long struggling as he spoke about this year's run, but the other young people in the area who still are battling the dreaded disease, such as a 10-year-old local boy named Gannon he learned about recently.
Diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), Gannon is undergoing treatment in a Pittsburgh hospital, and Long is planning activities at this year's run that will help raise funds for the boy's expenses.
Long had decided that each year's run would honor a cancer victim who lost the battle, and last year's honoree was former village councilman and longtime Wellsville coach Robert Grimm. This year's run will be in honor of Lindsey Salsberry, another local teenager who died from the disease.
"It just goes on and on," Long said with emotion, adding that the "hardest thing (about the run) is asking (a family) if we can honor their loved one."
But his anguish turned to hope as he outlined plans for this year's event, which will include not only the main run, but a costume contest for kids, a kids' dash, and, for the first time, a fire department brigade relay. Last year's event attracted 70 participants including 40 children and Long is hoping for an even larger turnout this year.
"It's really a good time for the village. It's for fun. I want people to come out and enjoy themselves," Long said.
The cost of the 1.5-mile run is $10 per person, which will include a T-shirt and entrance in a drawing for door prizes. Those who participate in the race also will be entered into a drawing for 42-inch flat screen television.
The run will travel from Village Hall, down Main Street to Ninth Street, to Fifth Street and Riverside, then back up Main to Village Hall, with prizes given to the top five in women, men, female under 12 and male under 12 categories.
Adults are welcome to wear costumes in the race, provided they are tasteful, Long said.
Children 9 and under can participate in the kids' 100-yard dash and costume contest and will receive a candy bag, pumpkin, T-shirt and prizes. The cost is $4 per child.
Fire departments are being encouraged to send six-man teams for the brigade relay, in which each firefighter will run about 400 yards and pass a water nozzle to the next person for a total of the same 1.5-mile-run as other participants. Firefighters must wear turn-out gear during the relay, which will offer a traveling trophy to the winning department. Each firefighter who participates will receive a T-shirt and be entered into the door prize drawings.
Hoping to attract as many fire departments as possible, Long, a Wellsville firefighter, has pledged to run the entire 1.5-mile dash in turn-out gear, including air tank, if 10 departments show.
Long is trying to arrange for a police cruiser and fire truck, as well as gear, so children can dress up and have their pictures taken.
Support from safety forces and the village has been "unreal," he said, noting the Ohio Valley College of Technology stepped up to the plate, supplying the T-shirts for runners and a laptop computer for a drawing that participating OVCT students can enter to win.
Although participants can register for the run up to the time of the event (from 3-5:15 p.m. that day), Long encouraged early entries, saying Wednesday will be the ultimate cut-off to guarantee entrants the size T-shirt they want.
"After that day, they will get whatever sizes that are available," he said.
Door prizes and sponsors are always welcome, and anyone interested in donating can contact Long at 412-735-0418.