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Benefit run honors late Angels pitcher Adenhart

June 12, 2010|By MARIE GILBERT
  • Hundreds of runners start the first Nick Adenhart 5K Run and Walk Saturday at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park in Halfway.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

HALFWAY -- Time marches on, even when you're dealing with loss.

The heartache slowly heals, the tears begin to dry and one day follows the next.

But the memories often remain untouched.

That was the case Saturday morning, as hundreds of people gathered at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park to honor Nick Adenhart.

The Williamsport High School graduate made his family and community proud, pitching his way to the major leagues with a lightning arm.

But his promising career with the Los Angeles Angels was cut short when he lost his life in a car accident.

One year later, the hometown hero hasn't been forgotten.

That was evident by the outpouring of participation in the first Nick Adenhart 5K Run and Walk, which began and ended at the Halfway Little League complex.

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About 700 people, many wearing Adenhart's No. 34 jersey, participated in the race, which was followed by a children's -- or "rookie" -- competition.

The event benefited the Nick Adenhart Memorial Foundation, along with the Hagerstown Fairgrounds Association and the Hagerstown Area Church Softball League, which have combined fundraising efforts to complete a lighting project at Fairgrounds Park.

The Foundation was created by the pitcher's family to offer help to struggling Little League organizations, including those for which Adenhart played.

"Nick didn't like to run," said Janet Gigeous, Adenhart's mother. "That's why this event is kind of ironic."

Running was a way to get to the thing he loved, she said.

Gigeous, who participated in Saturday's race, said she runs a lot "and when I do, I hear him in my ear, offering encouragement."

Mike Shifler, race director, said that "it's clear that the community remembers what happened on April 9 (2009, the day Adenhart was killed) and will never forget."

Shifler encouraged participants to touch home plate at the complex and "get a run for Nick today."

Among those participating in the children's race were eight players with the Hagerstown Hornets, a traveling youth baseball team.

Hornets Manager Brad O'Connor said he was born and raised in Hagerstown but has been a lifelong Angels fan.

"So I was thrilled when the Angels drafted Nick," he said."I watched Nick pitch in the game against Oakland. It's such a sad story for such a fine young man."

O'Connor's son, Patrick, 12, said he followed Adenhart's career with his father and was devastated when he heard of his death.

Patrick said he collects baseball cards and is especially proud of his autographed Nick Adenhart cards.

"They're very special," he said.

Emily Radaker of Hagerstown participated in the race with her two daughters, Skylar, 6, and Danica, 4.

"We didn't know Nick personally," Radaker said."But we know who he is.We wanted to be here to support the foundation and also pay tribute to him."

Cathy Roane of Martinsburg, W.Va., was going to walk the course with her two children, Mallory, 10, and Parker 6.

"We had followed Nick's career," Roane said, "so we wanted to be here to support the cause."

Mallory said it was important to help others, while Parker remembered helping to raise money at school at Thanksgiving to help the less fortunate.

"I like helping other people," he said.

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