The crowds of people huddled under a set of tents at Hutchinson Field Saturday morning were not grateful for the rain. They were not grateful for the cold, either, as many could see clouds of vapor caused by their own breaths.
But at the Get Busy Livin’ 5K, the back of many t-shirts read, “It’s a grateful day.” And that’s a motto that all participants shared as they raced in a 5K in honor of Dylan Meier.
Organizers said that the phrase adorning the back of the official shirt came from Meier himself, who would repeat that sentence every day with the strength coach from Kansas State.
Meier, a Pittsburg High School graduate, went on to play quarterback at Kansas State before going overseas to play for European football teams. Meier died on April 19, 2010, in a hiking accident in Arkansas. But his spirit lives on in both the foundation and the 5K that bear his name.
“I think the two biggest reasons so many people came is that Dylan did everything so passionately, it was contagious,” said Get Busy Livin’ 5K coordinator Tyler Scifers. “Second, everything he did, he was respectful of people. A lot of the time, people in his situation as a football player aren’t always the best. But Dylan was always respectful.”
Many of the racers said they were at the event to support what Meier stood for in his shortened lifetime. Scifers estimated about 800 people ran in the 5K course, which was designed to be in the shape of the number 9, Meier’s number while at PHS and Kansas State.
“I’m here because of the cause,” said Jeff Stephens, Pittsburg. “What’s a little rain? It’s amazing. I didn’t know what to expect, but the rain didn’t slow anyone down.”
David Huerter also ran because of the cause, but the cause was a little more personal. Huerter said his family has known the Meiers for years, long before Dylan’s death.
Although some people travel for major 5K events regularly, he said he was pleased by the number of casual racers who came in droves to the event.
“I think it’s Dylan’s philosophy, to be grateful for the day, regardless,” Huerter said. “We’re all grateful to run and participate. I told my family I’m grateful the drought is ending.”
The money from the Get Busy Livin’ 5K and 1-mile walk goes to the Dylan Meier “Get Busy Livin’” Foundation, which was established in 2011 and goes to help support scholarships for passionate students. Scifers said four scholarships were awarded through the organization this year, including three to local students.
“The biggest thing for us is the young people out there,” Scifers said. “We want to teach them to be passionate and go for it, because you don’t know where it will take you. The world is a big place. We hope the kids get out and get busy after something.”
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