‘Hold On Be Strong’ 5K raises $12,000 for Seymour Volunteer Fire Department
By J.J. Kindred | (email@example.com)
Cedar Grove Baptist Church, Maryville, raised about $12,000 for the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department in the “Hold On Be Strong” 5K Run/Walk Sept. 15, which honored the memory of two church members tragically killed in a head-on collision in Sevier County more than one year ago.
The event honored the memory of Jeff Trussell, who serv10ed as the church’s youth minister, and Courteney Kaliszewski, a student at Seymour High School and a member of the church’s youth group. Trussell was driving a church van full of youth group members from a weekend youth retreat in Gatlinburg when the van was hit head-on by an SUV as it was traveling up Chapman Highway in Seymour, causing it to burst into flames and killing Trussell and Kaliszewski, plus severely injuring 12 others.
Seymour Volunteer Fire Department crew members were among the first to arrive on the scene of the accident.
With the contributions, donations and registrations of 5k participants, Cedar Grove received $23,686, of which $11,895 was spent in race expenses. With contributions to the church and going directly to the fire department, those funds put the contribution at the $12,000 mark.
There were about 588 people registered for the 5K, with 437 finishing the race. Brent Bueche, of Maryville, was the first runner to cross the finish line, at a time of 19:05. The first female runner to finish was 17-year-old Blakely Graham of Sevierville, with a time of 23:11.
“We planned this 5K hoping at best to have 200-250 participants and have a goal of $5,000,” said Kim Trussell, widow of Jeff Trussell.
“We truly had a great day,” she said. “It was beautiful from beginning to end. With (people’s) help, our efforts resulted in a major contribution to some of the most worthy everyday heroes you will ever meet. Lives were touched, and the love and grace of God were shown to an entire community. God surpassed our every expectation. Jeff and Courteney would be so proud to know that so much good has been done in their memory.”