The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 7, 2014

Track at Blue Springs damaged, upcoming 5K postponed

By Lora Scripps

— Organizers said planning for Saturday’s postponed Spencer Black 5K is focused on aiding the tornado recovery effort after Monday’s EF3 twisters swept through Limestone County.

Last week’s tornadoes not only destroyed homes in Coxey, but also the elementary school track where the event is held.

Race organizer Gary Van Wagnen said in a press release Tuesday that it is family and recovery first as many students remain homeless following the storms.

“This fundraiser is about the community,” Van Wagnen said. “This track and field at Blue Springs Elementary serves our area like the Sportsplex in Athens serves it. People come and walk the trail that goes around the field and we do these races to provide equipment for the facility. We’ll reschedule, possibly mid-June, but it’s just too early to think about that now.”

The 5K and 1-mile fun run helps raise funds for the track and physical education programs at Blue Springs Elementary School and Clements High School.

Equipment that was once located at the school is now scattered among tornado debris, according to Van Wagnen.

The tornado not only destroyed fencing and bleachers at the track, but also the pole vault mats, high jump mat, a new ticket booth, among other damages.

Organizers of the 5K hope more runners will sign up for the rescheduled race to help in restoration efforts.

“This is a home-grown event with a good cause and a good community at its heart,” said Cayce Lee, a social media specialist for the Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association. “I hope we can rally people and support from all over to come run this race and rebuild what was lost.”

Those who would like to make donations to replace and repair the track, field and equipment as well as runners who would like to be added to the race’s notification list, may call Van Wagnen at 314-409-5102 or email