Just about sunrise Saturday, a crowd of people began assembling at Grand River Technical School to take part in an event that not only commemorated the transition from the old Chillicothe High School stadium to the new stadium, but honored a beloved coach and physical education teacher.

There were 391 runners and walkers taking part in the Stadium 2 Stadium 5K Run / Walk, and many more individuals were present to show support for Dave Kinen, who came to the Chillicothe school district 13 years ago, and who was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in 2008.

The Stadium 2 Stadium 5K Run / Walk began at the old stadium and ended at the new stadium in north Chillicothe, and was coordinated to raise funds for ALS in honor of Kinen. The net amount raised was $3,900.

Jenny Hughes, a business instructor at GRTS, originally hoped for 200 participants. But, as the day of the event neared, it became clear that number would expand.

Kinen, who has been an integral part of the education system and continues to be involved in students' lives, was well-pleased.

"It's amazing," he said Saturday morning just before the race. "I'm pretty awe-struck as to how many people there are. It's pretty awesome."

Given his tenure within the district, Kinen, has touched the lives of children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Add in his coaching years, and the lives of those he touched include individuals now approaching 30.

Kinen was diagnosed with ALS in 2008. Often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The lesson he continually emphasizes, more so by example than by words, is to "Never Quit."

Even as the race was about to get under way Saturday morning, Kinen said he would complete the route in his motorized wheel chair and be the 'saggin' wagon.'

"I'm going to stay back and give people support," he said.

Among the hundreds of people showing up for the event were Kinen's family delegation from Iowa, including his parents, a sister, sister-in-law, and several nieces.

"It is truly amazing all the people who showed up," Kinen said. "I am really humbled by these parents. It is truly amazing to have so many people come out and show that they cared."

Maura Sturguess, who was in kindergarten when Kinen arrived in the district, is now a senior. She helped organize the event.

"The day turned out great," she said. "It was better than we expected. I am excited people came out to show support for Coach Kinen. We all appreciate that they made our event such a huge success."

She said Kinen is an inspiration.

"Because of this disease, he has slowly declined. He has not been able to do a lot of the things that he used to be able to do," she said. "But, he just keeps going every day. He keeps fighting and wants to prove the doctors wrong."

Although he is retired, he will always be known as Coach Dave Kinen, she said.

"He has meant a lot to all of us," Sturguess said. "He cares about every single student. All of the students here in Chillicothe... the whole town cares about him. Stadium 2 Stadium is our way of saying 'thank you,' and to give back to him."

The fact that today's seniors were Kinen's first kindergarten class in Chillicothe, and that this is the year the new stadium was completed, made the event particularily sentimental.

"It's a monumental year and he's a monumental teacher," Hughes said.
After the event, one woman said she had planned to walk just half of the route, then stop at a friend's house, Hughes stated.

"However, when she walked out of the stadium and saw Dave sitting there watching everyone go by, she was so inspired and decided to walk the entire 3.1 miles," Hughes stated.

"Another participant said it was the coolest thing to look back up Fair Street and see a wave of people coming down the street," she added.

The current net amount raised is $3,900. This will be donated to ALS research through The ALS Association Keith Worthington Chapter, which serves Kansas, Nebraska and Western/Central Missouri.


The overall men's winner was Derek Wilson, with a time of 18:10 minutes and the women's overall winner was Marisa McCoy, finishing in 22:53. In the team events, CHS Softball was the first large team to finish while Kinen Caretakers were first in the small team division. The age division winners are as follows (listed 1st then 2nd place): 13 & Under: Females Kaili Ward, Lexi Shoemaker; Males Dylan Munson, Jackson Levine; 14-19: Females Hannah Thieme, Torria Slagle; Males Derek Wilson and Brett Young; 20-29: Females Marisa McCoy, Jessica Gilgour; Males Dane Myers, Zach Cannon; 30-39: Females Heather Maddux, Angie Dedrick; Males Lance Wheeler, Roman Cranmer; 40-49: Females Terri Stephens, Jeri Epperson; Males Travis Clark, Brent Kline; 50 & Over: Females Pam Billings, Brenda Fellhoelter; Males Troy Figg, Larry Fellhoelter.

Hughes stated that the event was a huge success, thanks to the many volunteers (students and adults), coverage by the local media, and the inspiration of Coach Kinen.

She expressed appreciation to the shirt sponsors: Copeland Development and Construction, North Central Missouri Veterinary Services, and Woody's.

Lauhoff Jewelry donated the overall winner's plaques. Golf carts and Gator were provided by Green Hills Country Club and Woody's Outdoor Power Equipment.

Other business contributors included Francine's Pastry Parlor, Young Veterinary Clinic, Fellhoelter Electric, BK Webworks, Premier Eyecare, Chillicothe State Bank, Pepsi Bottling, Lindley Funeral Home, Anytime Fitness, KCHI and The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune.

Hughes also noted that the support of the Chillicothe R-2 administration was appreciated.