MASON — A race to benefit a Flatrock area man, who is battling cancer, will be held in Mason on Oct. 5.
Proceeds from the second annual Northbend Fall 5K Run/Walk will go towards the medical and travel expenses for Randy Smith. The run will begin at 9 a.m. at the Mason park.
Smith was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Type B in May, and is undergoing treatment at the WVU Cancer Institute in Morgantown. An electrician and construction worker, he has not been able to work since the diagnosis.
Smith began chemotherapy in Columbus, Ohio, but was later sent to WVU for more extensive treatment. He has now finished his fourth round of chemo, with two additional rounds remaining.
Following his final chemo treatment, Smith said tests will be run, and if cancer remains present, he will begin stem cell therapy in Morgantown. If even further treatment is necessary, Smith said he will undergo CAR T-cell therapy, a type of immunotherapy that uses a patient’s own genetically modified T cells to find and kill cancer cells.
T cells are a type of white blood cell that can fight infection and disease, according to the WVU Cancer Institute website. When a T cell recognizes something as a threat, like a cell infected by a virus, it attacks and destroys it to help keep the body healthy. The goal of CAR T-cell therapy is to direct T cells to cancer cells instead of cells that are infected.
Choosing Smith as this year’s race beneficiary was an easy decision, according to Northbend Creative Director Jake Marburger, one of the run organizers.
“He is a picture of what this church is about,” said Marburger. “People being changed by the love of Jesus.”
Marburger said shortly after being saved at Northbend Church, Smith stepped out and began serving. He added Smith’s group of people grew, and soon he was serving outside of the church as well, taking the message of the church and actually living it out.
Smith is perhaps best known at the church as the parking director, where he is often the first to greet churchgoers, both young and old, with a “high five.”
“He is a tone setter for the church,” said Marburger. “He is always happy and smiling. The kids love him, and the people love him.”
In fact, the high five is the theme of t-shirts sold recently to benefit Smith. The shirts were inscribed “High 5’s for Healing – Team Randy.” Other fundraisers for the Point Pleasant High School graduate included a recent benefit bingo games event, and an upcoming ATV ride in October.
The Northbend run/walk will begin and end at the Stewart-Johnson V.F.W./Lottie Jenks Memorial Park on Front Street. Registration starts at 8 a.m., with the race beginning at 9 a.m. The cost is $25.
There will be prizes of gift cards awarded to the top overall male and female runners. Also receiving prizes will be the top male and female in each age group, which consists of 19 years and younger, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, and 50 years and over.
The course of the race is mainly a flat, paved surface. It will mostly consist of traveling Second, Third, and Fourth streets, as well as some others. Maps will be available on race day. Those participating are not required to run the race. All ages are invited to walk the route, as well.
People registering prior to Sept. 20 will be guaranteed a t-shirt. Marburger said extra shirts will be ordered, but all sizes might not be available by race day. To register, follow the link on the church website at “northbend.church,” or on Facebook at Northbend Church.
Smith’s progress can also be followed on Facebook at Randy Smith Updates. He is expected to lead the run on a golf cart or similar vehicle, if his health allows.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at email@example.com.