Racers Gather To Remember Ben Knepper
Runners and walkers flocked to Center United Methodist Church Saturday morning to pay homage to the late Ben Knepper and help raise money for a scholarship fund that was established in his honor shortly after his tragic death five years ago.
The fifth annual Ben K-5K race drew in a total of 180 participants, who ran, jogged and walked their way down the 3.1-mile route along Dublin Mills Road. Jarrod Sharpe, the 2010 race day organizer, stated the breakdown of the July 31 event included 60 runners and 120 walkers.
Crossing the finish line as the overall winner with a time of 19:14 was Waterfall’s own Josh Newman. Newman also secured top honors in the men’s category of ages 18 to 39, continuing the tradition his extended family set long ago as being exceptional runners and athletes.
“Even though I was able to pull this one off somehow, Brian Sell and Troy Harrison really set the bar very high in the early races. Looking back at those times, it’s pretty humbling,” Newman told the “News.” “ ... I want to thank Jarrod and all of the volunteers who put everything together this year. To think that we’ve done five races without any drop-off in donations or local interest from participants, businesses and organizations is humbling as well.”
“It was nice to see Josh finally bring the title home to Waterfall,” Sharpe chimed in.
On Newman’s heels was Needmore resident William Baker, who has had several strong finishes and victories in recent years at the Ben K-5K. Baker completed the route in 20:23 and took the men’s 40-and-over category. Meanwhile, Baker’s son, Zane, clinched the final men’s category, for individuals ages 17 and under with a time of 21:52.
On the women’s side of the track, sisters Jenna and Chelsey Hollenshead recorded some outstanding finishing times. Jenna, the overall female winner as well as the winner of the 17-and-under division, finished in 23:14, while older sister Chelsey took the age-18- to-39 category with her time of 25:57. Recording a time of 23:42, Deanne Baker of Needmore continued her winning streak for the third consecutive year and easily wrapped up the female 40-andover age group.
All race-day winners received plaques for their efforts, according to Sharpe, who received much assistance in organizing and conducting the event from Jason Sharpe, the Newman and Knepper families, various volunteers and the Center Church family. Fire police from the Hustontown Area Volunteer Fire Co. were also instrumental in providing traffic control during the race.
Even though the final tally has not yet been made in determining race-day proceeds that include sponsorships, T-shirt sales, registration fees and donations, Sharpe has estimated around $4,000 was raised for the Ben Knepper Scholarship Fund.
At the time of his death, Ben was six credits short of obtaining a business management degree through the Mont Alto campus of Pennsylvania State University. Recognizing his thirst for knowledge, Ben’s family and close friends chose to establish the fund. Interest earned from the fund is awarded annually to at least one deserving senior from Forbes Road High School interested in furthering their education. This year’s scholarship recipients were 2010 graduates Dylan Gelvin and Stefani Jenkins.
Companies, organizations and residents sponsoring this year’s annual race included Forbes Road Lions Club, Ben’s family, New Enterprise Rural Electrical Cooperative, Center United Methodist Church, Community State Bank of Orbisonia, Sandy Ridge Market, Waterfall Cable, Rotz-Mountz families, Second Time Around, Spring Run Lumber Barn, Walters family, Jobe family, Lee family, Pennsylvania State Police in McConnellsburg, William Baker family and the Ketchum family.