Rat Race honors fallen heroes, raises money for worthwhile cause

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The 3rd Annual Rat Race 5K run was held Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Green Forest.

The Rat Race was established in 2013 by Jeff Adams as a senior class capstone project for Berryville High School. Jeff's uncle, Navy SEAL, Thomas A. Ratzlaff was one of the 31 U.S. military personnel who died on Aug. 6, 2011, when the Chinook helicopter they were riding in was shot down in the Wardak Province in Afghanistan.

The Rat Race was established to honor not only Ratzlaff but also the other military personnel who died. Since 2013, the operation of the race has been taken over by friends of Ratzlaff from the Green Forest High School Class of 1995. This year as an addition to the race, a sign and picture of one of the soldiers were placed every tenth of a mile along the 3.1-mile course.

Proceeds from the race benefit the Ratzlaff Memorial Scholarship Fund, programs for veterans and military personnel and local children's programs.

The event saw 320 participants and an additional 15 "Virtual Runners".

The 2015 Ratzlaff Memorial Scholarships were given to Charnett Warren of Berryville High School and Ehlaina Hudson of Green Forest High School in the amount of $1,250 each. A donation was made to the City of Green Forest and presented to Rowdy Lambert and Mayor Charles Reese.

Reese said the donation will be used for a veterans memorial located on Tommy Ratzlaff Avenue. Two donations were made to the Green Forest schools -- the first for a program that was established by the Green Forest counselors in the 2014-2015 school year in honor of Ratzlaff and his cousin, Amy Harp Smith. The program works with children who have lost parents. Elementary counselor Becky Tharp said that in Green Forest grade K-12, 52 students were eligible to participate in this group. Throughout the year these students met with their counselors to talk and also had group sessions in which they had special lunches, made memory boxes, went bowling and finished the year with a balloon release and picnic at the city park.

A new donation this year will be used in conjunction with the Loaves and Fishes BackPack Program. This program provides single-serving, easily prepared food for children to take home who may not have a hearty meal over the weekend and other out of school time. School nurse Regina Rhinehart will administer this program and will be providing these students something extra during different times during the year.

Winners of this year's race were:

Men's Division

Nathan Andress, Eureka Springs, 18:10

Trevor Compton, Mound City, Kan., 20:44

Barrett Ratzlaff, Virginia Beach, Va., 20:54

Women's Divison

Maranda Murr, Green Forest, 22:27

Gabi Bloch, Eureka Springs, 22:36

Trista Killingsworth, Berryville, 22:43

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