WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Loved ones and members of the local running community laced up their shoes to run the Prairie Fire Marathon in honor of the life of Thomas Stanley.
Stanley was killed after he was struck by lightning last month while running in an ultra marathon. Stanley was nearing the finish line when it happened.
In a sea of runners as they began the marathon, you could spot running jerseys with the words, “I run for Thomas.”
“I so wish that he was here to see it,” said Ashley Stanley, Thomas’ wife.
Thomas’ loved ones got the chance to run just like he loved to do. Some were experienced runners, but others were racing for the first time.
“Just trying to finish and finish with a smile,” said Chelsea Mitchell, Thomas’ sister-in-law. “Thomas was such an encourager, and it’s a nice way to honor him. But, it’s bittersweet because he’s not here doing it with us.”
Thomas’ family and wife said the support from the community has been overwhelming in the best ways.
“I think Thomas would have been deeply moved and humbled to see how much people are taking care of his family,” said Ashley.
Thomas touched the lives of many, not just those in the running community.
“I think it’s pretty amazing that his life is now impacting people in a positive way,” said James Clendenin, Wichita City Council member.
As Ashley crossed the 5K finish line, she said Thomas was the only thing on her mind.
“To be able to honor Thomas and challenge myself at the same time, there’s no way I couldn’t be here,” said Ashley.
The jersey and race bibs for Thomas are mementos the runners will keep, but the memories of running for Thomas will stick with them forever.
“It’s cool to really see how many people he impacted,” said Mitchell. “We knew he was doing good work, but it’s just unbelievable.”
City leaders asked for a moment of silence for Thomas before each race.
A portion of the Prairie Fire Marathon proceeds will go to the Stanley Children’s Fund set up by the Kansas Leadership Center.
To find out more about the running jerseys or to get your own, click here.
For more ways you can help the Stanley family, click here.