Zombies make way through Wellsville

WELLSVILLE-An overcast, dreary morning provided a fittingly eerie backdrop for the inaugural Zombie Run 5K Saturday in Wellsville. Rainy weather did not discourage runners and walkers of the “undead” and living variety from turning out in numbers to support a good cause.

The run was organized by the aptly-named non-profit group Wellsville Back From the Dead (BFTD), with all proceeds and donations from the event going to the Wounded Warrior Project. The newly-formed group hopes to bring interest and people back to the village with unique events like the Zombie Run. They appeared to have accomplished that goal Saturday, attracting about 115 runners and walkers from all over the tri-state area and as far away as Florida.

As runners and walkers began to trickle across the finish line at Wellsville High School, BFTD president Derek Mills and vice president Louie D’Angelo reflected on what they considered to be a successful inaugural run.

“A lot of people showed up even with the weather,” said Mills, an 11-year Army veteran and Wellsville native. “For a first-year event, I could not ask for more.”

Mills and D’Angelo said the group encountered a few bumps in the road with the Zombie Run but said that such challenges are to be expected with any first-year event. They said any challenges were well worth supporting America’s soldiers.

“It was all for a good cause,” D’Angelo said.

They hope to take the lessons learned from the first year of the run and come back bigger and better next year.

“This was the kickoff to something bigger and we want it to keep on growing,” Mills said.

Both BFTD members noted that putting together the event would not be possible without the supporting cast that worked hard behind the scenes.

Retired 20-year Navy veteran and BFTD secretary Rebecca Springer was committed to making the run a reality from the moment Mills told her it benefited the Wounded Warrior Project.

“She’s been there every step of the way,” Mills said.

Elks Lodge 1040 hosted the trophy ceremony and a post race party for participants. Elks Exulted Ruler Jeff Haugh said his organization was glad to assist anyone seeking to look after veterans.

Walmart, which is a partner with the national Wound Warrior project, also got involved by donating water to the event and lending store personnel to help out during the race.

“We could not have asked for support from a better group of people and organizations,” D’Angelo said.

Posting the best times in their age groups were Louie D’Angelo, runners 18-35; Tom Pinkerton, runners 36-and-up; Maryellen Reed, walkers 36-and-up; and Vanessa McKinley, walkers 18-35.