Community members run for former Elizabethton principal’s fight against ALS


ELIZABETHTON (WJHL) – Though he’s no longer in the classroom, a former Tri-Cities educator continues to teach lessons to thousands.

Josh Wandell at Saturday’s Race for Wandell.

In May, Dr. Josh Wandell stepped down as Elizabethton’s East Side Elementary principal. Two years prior, he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s, also known as ALS.

Saturday, community members held the third annual Race for Wandell.

“We all do our part to embrace faith over fear,” said the MC. It’s a saying this Carter County community grasped onto.

Wandell’s brother, Neal, said, “he’s a living example.  His faith is 10 times more than his fears.”

“It’s something that you could very easily give up, but he’s a very strong individual. He’s not willing to let this disease overcome him,” said Wandell’s physical therapist Michael Lowe.

Family members said Wandell’s faith is stronger than ever.

“You don’t think about him being sick, because he’ll talk to you. We talk about sports, we talk about fantasy football,” Neal said.

While the disease steals the ability to move, community members impacted by Wandell’s fight moved for him.

“To have all these people from the community come out and be willing to walk, and do this walk for Josh is amazing,” Lowe told News Channel 11.

For the third year in a row, a number of people walked or ran three miles at the elementary school Wandell was once a principal at.

“I just wanted to show him that I love him and how much I appreciate him, so I ran that race today to show him that,” said East Side Elementary student Olivia Holli.

Each step raises awareness about the incurable disease.

“Less than 200,00 people have it in the United States,” Neal said. “It’s almost under-funded, lack of research. The more events we have like this, it raises awareness.”

The event also raises faith.

All of the money raised from Saturday’s race goes to Wandell and his medical costs.

For more information on Josh Wandell and his fight against ALS, visit 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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