Texas State cancer victim honored with 5K

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Lifestyle Reporter
Andrea Hernandez, athletic training senior, and Haley Karlik participate in the Got Your Back 5K April 12 near Five Mile Dam.

Members of the Texas State Athletic Department hosted the second annual Got Your Back 5K on April 12 in memory of David Gish, former head athletic trainer.

Carla Heffner, event director and senior lecturer in the Department of Health and Human Performance, said Gish worked at Texas State for over 25 years before losing his battle with cancer in 2014.

Heffner said the 5K began after Gish received the diagnosis and was continued as a way to celebrate his memory.

“In 2013 he developed cancer, so last year we hosted the first 5K,” Heffner said. “He was a runner, and it was just natural to honor him and raise funds with a race.”

The money raised from the race goes toward a scholarship fund in Gish’s name to support athletic training students, Heffner said.

“He was always a very big educator, so starting a scholarship in his name seemed like a natural fit to continue his education legacy,” Heffner said.

Heffner hopes to see the first scholarship from the fund awarded next fall.

“We need $25,000 for the scholarship to become endowed,” Heffner said. “Then we can distribute it. Hopefully the funds raised from the 5K, along with donations and other fundraisers, will help us reach that goal by the end of this school year.”

Jessie Frausto was the first person to cross the finish line 17 minutes and 54 seconds after the start of the race. He said San Marcos was a beautiful location for the event.

“I’m from Austin,” Frausto said. “I usually run 5Ks and 10Ks there. I read about this race online, and I’ve never run here before, so I came.”

Darcy Downey, assistant athletic trainer, said she participated in the race to pay respect to a man valued by everyone who met him.

“I started working with David in 1998,” Downey said. “He was just the kind of person that genuinely cared about people, especially his students. That’s why 1,100 people showed up to his funeral.”

Downey said she appreciates the turnout and support for the race and scholarship fund.

“My favorite thing about last year’s 5K is that he could be here,” Downey said. “This year, I am just so happy that people came to support the scholarship fund and David’s memory.”

Leah Collazo, athletic training senior and vice president of the Athletic Training Sports Medicine Club, said the registration goal was 250 people and 300 attended.

Collazo said some participants were alumni impacted by Gish during his time at Texas State.

“I knew David personally,” Collazo said. “He was a really big mentor to me and a lot of other people. I credit him to my confidence and my abilities, so I would do anything for him.”

After the race, a team of volunteers hosted a raffle and barbecue lunch for competitors, Collazo said.

Heffner said proceeds from the additional events will go toward the scholarship fund.

“Texas State Tubes made a very generous donation for the raffle,” Heffner said. “They donated rental packages. We also have Schlitterbahn tickets, and the athletic department donated four pairs of Texas State football game tickets for the 2015 season.”

Heffner, Downey and other event organizers plan to continue the 5K as a way to keep Gish’s memory alive.

“Our goal is that the 5K will continue to raise money for the scholarship fund and that we can also donate to other cancer-oriented organizations,” Heffner said. “We obviously made it for David, but for other organizations, we want to say we ‘got your back’ too.”