Multitudes turn out for Race for Cowden 5K

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 23, 2011

By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
Nelson Cowden, assistant principal at West Rowan High School, was surprised that so many runners and walkers turned out in downtown Cleveland Saturday morning for the Race for Cowden 5K.
Many were students and staff at West Rowan, but most were there just simply to support the Cowden family, as son, Tom, continues his recovery from brain cancer.
Tom was also joined by his mom, Christi, and sister, Ivy. Tom was the official starter for the race, as more than 120 participants joined the “Fight for Tom.”
Tom is now 14 years old, and is a patient at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte while he receives physical therapy so he may walk again.
Walkers and runners ran the course just prior to the official start of the Cleveland Spring Festival.
Temperatures warmed as the participants completed the 3.1-mile course, but spirits were high as the community surrounded the Cowden’s with emotional and financial support.
Sponsors for the event were Godley’s Garden Center, Barry Michael CPA, Cleveland Drug Company, Goodson and Son, Jack B. Wooten Company, Ken and Karen Sherrill, Lazy 5 Ranch, Lazy 5 Veterinary Hospital, Mary L. Farm, Patterson Farm Market and Tours, Inc., Richard and Mary Ann Hansen, RDH Tire and Retread, Scotty Benson Construction, Smith Farms Hay and Straw, Todd and Mary Kay Hansen Family, Stricklin Auto and Truck Parts Inc., Marlow’s BBQ and Seafood Inc., Kepley Construction, Stout Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., Moore Farm, Taylor Parker’s Organic Chicken Eggs, Sandra’s Beauty Shop, Cleveland IGA, Matlock’s Used Cars and Parts, C&T Peeps, Back Creek Presbyterian Church, Owen’s Greenhouse, Rolling Hills Golf Course, State Farm Insurance-John Leatherman Agent, Kepley Rigging and Towing LLC, Southern Images Lawn Service, the Town of Cleveland, and the Salisbury Rowan Runners.
Overall winner was Josh Readling of Salisbury, with a time of 18 minutes and 29 seconds.
He was followed by Kyle Gillis with a time of 18:32, and Jacob Fink finished third in 19:15.
For the women, Devan Purvis led the way in 24:22.
Second was Ashley Kem in 25:45, followed closely by Mary McCachren in 25:14.
Nelson thanked the crowd, and expressed his appreciation to the West Rowan community.
“I am just overwhelmed, thank you so much,” he said.
All proceeds from the event go to help offset the mounting medical costs incurred for the treatment that Tom is receiving.
Tom has been able to move his legs recently, though he is still confined to a wheel chair.
“His speech is improving and overall his condition is much better, and we expect Tom to walk again”, continued Cowden.
Race director and organizer for the second annual event was Brittany Chester, a science teacher at West Rowan High School.
“We had hoped that there wouldn’t be a need to do this again for a second time, but the community and sponsors across the county stepped forward to make it happen. The West Rowan area has come together once again to support a cause which we believe in. So many sponsors stepped forward to help us,” Chester said.
“I want to thank the Town of Cleveland for all their support. The police department and fire department came through on race day, and along with our volunteers kept all of the runners and walkers safe on the course. It was a great way to kick off the Spring Festival. Most of all, we will continue to support the Cowden’s, and await Tom’s complete recovery. It will be great when Mr. Cowden can return to school because we miss him.”
Complete results can be found at