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Hundreds memorialize Hockaday in benefit runs

Photo by Elijah Nouvelage

Spencer Hockaday had always wanted to hold a fundraising race at Spotsylvania High School to benefit his beloved baseball team.

Sunday, on the second anniversary of his death, that goal became reality.

It was bittersweet for his parents, Tracie and Amos Hockaday, who each said they were “overwhelmed” by the turnout for what they plan to be an annual event.

More than 350 people registered for the inaugural 5K trail run and a 1-mile fun run that took place on the school grounds.

Spencer Hockaday was a senior, second baseman and captain for the Spotsylvania Knights when he died on March 10, 2011 in a single-vehicle accident.

Family, friends, teammates and people who had met him through American Family Fitness, where he had worked, were among those running.

But there were also people he’d never met.

A group from the track team at Keene State College in New Hampshire was passing through on spring break and decided to run. One of the group, 18-year-old Hayden Patterson, won the race.

“We’re happy we chose this over the bigger race [in the region] because it has a bigger meaning,” said Chance Wilk, a college senior whose brother, Bryce Wilk, works at Lake Anna State Park.

The run was organized by the Hockaday family as the first fundraiser of the Spencer Hockaday Foundation, which they established in January.

‘THIS ISN’T THE END’

Proceeds from the run not only benefit the Knights baseball program, but also the high school, neighboring Post Oak Middle School, the high school’s athletic boosters, and the Battlefield Area Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Spencer’s faith was a driving force in establishing the foundation’s mission, Tracie Hockaday has said.

The goal is “to engage others so deeply they realize the impact their life and love can have on others,” taken from the message of 1 John 4:7-21.

Greg Brock, a family friend and youth minister at Celebration Church in Spotsylvania, led a devotional to kick off Sunday’s run, quoting from some of the Bible’s key passages on love.

Logan Saunders, who spoke at Spencer’s funeral, graduated from Massaponax High in 2011 and now attends James Madison University.

He got to know Spencer through baseball, first as rivals and then for two years as teammates in a recreation league.

He said his peace comes from knowing Spencer had committed his life to Jesus Christ.

“It’s comforting and encouraging to know this isn’t the end. I’ll see my friend again,” Logan said. “It’s not just something to say. It’s the truth.”

A GOAL FULFILLED

Runners also recalled Spencer’s warmth and positive outlook.

John Reifenberg, who played with Spencer for three years at Spotsylvania High, said his optimism was contagious.

“He’s one of those people that, because you are around him, put you in a better mood,” he said.

Robby Foster, a 13-year-old who attends Spotsylvania Middle School, was the first to register for the race, Tracie Hockaday said.

Robby showed up Sunday wearing a white singlet over his yellow UnderArmour shirt.

The singlet had a picture of Spencer on front and was imprinted: Running in Honor of Spencer Hockaday.

Robby said he was 8 when he met Spencer at American Family Fitness’ Kids Club.

“He was my best friend,” Robby said. “He was my favorite person to see.”

A group of five people participating in a weight-loss program at American Family Fitness took part Sunday, proudly wearing “Be a Loser” T-shirts as they ran and walked the 5K course.

That course provided just the kind of fun Spencer would have enjoyed, Brock said.

The cross country route offered evidence of last week’s snowstorm and subsequent mild temperatures.

“The back end was all snow and all of the rest was mud,” John Reifenberg said without any hint of annoyance.

Amos Hockaday said the foundation’s first event was a success.

“Spencer always talked about doing something to help the baseball team. We just never had the time,” Hockaday said. “To see it finally put in motion, it’s been good. It’s been a great day.”

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

 

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