2011-08-04 / Local & State

Community Rallies To Honor Knepper

Ben K-5K raises more than $5,500
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER


Ruth Knepper (far left) and Dick Knepper (far right) pose with top runners participating in the Ben K-5K Saturday morning. Pictured with the Knepper family are (left to right) Melanie Deneen, Allison Fraker, Deanne Baker, Zane Baker, William Baker, Jason Snyder and James Lupey. Ruth Knepper (far left) and Dick Knepper (far right) pose with top runners participating in the Ben K-5K Saturday morning. Pictured with the Knepper family are (left to right) Melanie Deneen, Allison Fraker, Deanne Baker, Zane Baker, William Baker, Jason Snyder and James Lupey. Thinking back to June 13, 2005, when his youngest son, Ben, was lost in a car crash, Dick Knepper said, “Apparently God needed him more than I do.”

Still emotional over the loss, Dick says he often has to stop his tractor in the fields surrounding his Drifting Lane farm to wipe away his tears and ponder what the future would have held for Ben – maybe a college degree and a new job or even a family of his own.

On Saturday, the extended Knepper family gathered outside Center United Methodist Church amid friends, neighbors and former classmates to kick off what has turned into an annual community event. Known as the Ben K-5K, the 3.1-mile race drew many returning walkers and runners as well as some new faces, according to event organizer and older brother Scott Knepper.

In spite of the blistering heat, turnout for the event was good if not better than in prior years, said Scott. A total of 182 individuals registered to participate, who were broken down into 43 runners and 139 walkers.

Even though the family debated whether the 2011 event would be the last race, the Kneppers were so overwhelmed by the attendance and offers of volunteer and financial support, they have agreed to move forward with their plans for next year.

“This was the best race attendance ever by the looks of things,” said Dick. “How could we not continue having more races.”

Ben’s parents, Dick and Ruth Knepper, were on hand following the race to congratulate winners, which included top male and female runners age 17 and under, 18 to 39 and 40 and over. Zane Baker, of Needmore, was the overall winner as well as the winner of the 17 and under men’s category. Zane was joined at the finish line by his parents, William and Deanne Baker.

William Baker tied with fellow Pennsylvania State Police corporal James Lupey for the men’s 40 and over category, while Deanne Baker took the 40 and over women’s age division.

McConnellsburg resident Allison Fraker and Jason Snyder, of Shade Gap, took top honors in the 18 and 39 women’s and men’s categories, and Melanie Deneen from Crystal Spring rounded out the day with a win for females ages 17 and under.

Registration was free for those registering prior to July 8, and rose to $5 for those entering on race day. Combined with profit made from race sponsors New Enterprise Rural Electric Cooperative, Community State Bank of Orbisonia, Forbes Road Lions Club, Center United Methodist Church, Second Time Around, Spring Run Lumber Barn, Sandy Ridge Market, Black’s Garage, Team Luzier Trucking, Commissioner Craig Cutchall, Rotz-Mountz families, Ketchum family, Lee family, Sharpe families, Walters family and Roy, Jo and Hayden, the Ben K-5K netted $ 5,643. Knepper noted the amount does not include expenses, which were limited to drinks and ice this year.

“We had several individuals, including retired teachers, who gave sizeable checks, to help with our cause,” said Scott. “This event isn’t a one-time shot, and it’s gotten bigger so people don’t mind giving to it.”

Money from the race is earmarked for the Ben Knepper Scholarship Fund, which through accrued interest earnings annually benefits several members of the Forbes Road High School graduating class. The family was prompted to begin the fund because at the time of Ben’s death, he was six credits shy of completing a two-year program in business management at Penn State University’s Mont Alto campus.

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