The marathon’s motto is “never give up,” which Keel said was her husband’s own personal motto, especially when he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Keel exercised every day and worked to help others improve their own health, even when he was battling a life-threatening disease.
Peggy has also been on a mission to help others stay fit and get into healthy routines and habits. It seemed like a match made in heaven when Johnny and Peggy met at a fitness convention and were later married for 18 years.
In addition to the 5k and 10k runs, there will also be a fun run, festivities for children, booths set up by sponsors and a special health fair sponsored by University Medical Center to stick with the focus of better fitness.
“UMC is going to have a health fair with free screenings, and it’s a good opportunity for people,” Peggy said.
Prevention is one thing Johnny tried to convey to everyone after he was diagnosed. While he fought his own battle, Johnny encouraged people he knew and didn’t know to be proactive with their health. Having health screenings and other examinations can catch cancer in its early stages, before it’s too late.
“He never failed to meet with people who had cancer to see how he could help them,” Peggy said of Johnny.
She pointed out that Tennessee has the second-highest rate of obesity in the country and said the annual marathon and the efforts put forward by the Foundation will work to turn that number around.
All of the money raised by the marathon will go into the Johnny Keel Wellness Foundation, which will then determine a concrete plan on how to get the community active and exercising more to utilize the money that was raised.
“Our whole focus on the foundation is to do whatever we can to help the community be more active,” Peggy said.
While there will be a 5k and 10k marathon for the runners, everyone is welcome to walk the 5k course, and Peggy said they are hoping to bring in groups of walkers to enjoy the festivities and get a good exercise without having to commit to running a marathon.
She encouraged friends, families, church groups and anyone else to form a group and walk together both to raise money for a good cause and to enjoy getting a good exercise with those closest to you.
You may register for the event now at Sports Village, the Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, or online at www.active.com. The cost of registration before the event is $20 and $30 on the day of the marathon. You can also pre-register for the 1-mile fun run for $15 or $20 on the day of the event.
Everyone who registers by May 1 will receive a free T-shirt and timing chip for the 5k and 10k run and the first 500 people to register will be guaranteed a timing chip.
Registration on the day of the event begins at 6 a.m., and the run begins promptly at 8. The fun run will begin after the marathon ends at 10 a.m. and children’s events will go on all morning.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.