By Rachel Peoples
Special to The Community News
The second annual Featherfooted Buffalo Memorial 5K is coming up April 8 at the Vietnam Memorial in Mineral Wells.
“We are hoping for good weather!” said Zip and Sherri Brazeal, the couple who hosts the run. “Last year, it was great seeing everyone come out in support of the 5K and have a good time.”
The 5K funds a memorial scholarship in honor of Zip and Sherri’s son, Samuel, who was killed in a car accident during his second season as an offensive lineman for Ottawa University in Kansas.
“Last year, we just expected it to be limited to our family, and then people started registering and we were blown away by the response,” Zip said. “Hopefully we will continue to see the 5K grow each year.”
Last year’s run raised more than $5,000, and the first memorial scholarship was awarded to Ottawa University freshman Justin Sikes of Gardner, Kansas.
“I was honored,” said Sikes of being chosen for the memorial scholarship. “I didn’t even know Sam, but my coach said he saw the same characteristics in me that he saw in Sam.”
The scholarship was awarded to Sikes during a memorial planting of a tree on the Ottawa University campus in Samuel’s honor last fall. Zip and Sherri Brazeal were able to be present.
“Justin was exactly what we had in mind when we first began to discuss the scholarship,” Sherri said. “We wanted someone who had high character, demonstrated a financial need, and of course, he had to be an offensive lineman. In the little bit of time we got to visit with Justin, we knew he was a good choice.”
New to the 5K fundraiser this year is a partnership with Community Christian School in Mineral Wells, where Samuel participated in high school sports until he graduated in 2014. Some of the funds raised through the run will support the athletic program at the school.
“CCS was a big part of Samuel’s high school years and it just seemed like a natural fit,” Zip said. “Samuel loved playing football and basketball for CCS and we wanted to contribute to the athletic program so that other kids would be able to enjoy athletics there.”
Early registration for the 5K is open through March 24 and is $25. After that, registration is $35 and continues through the day of the run. This fee includes a t-shirt and post-race refreshments. The Mineral Wells 5K will be paralleled by a memorial 5K in Ottawa, which Sikes is planning to take part in.
“I heard that Sam was the kind of the guy who was there to listen when you needed him and that he was a hard worker,” Sikes said. “Receiving this scholarship makes me want to work hard to achieve everything they believe I can.”
To register, visit featherfootedbuffalo.com