Gotta Run: Love Thy Neighbor events on tap

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 5, 2021

Sometimes we don’t get to do things the way we want, but then an opportunity arises. This is what has happened with the Love Thy Neighbor races set for Saturday, Sept. 11. Concordia and Trinity Lutheran churches have annually coordinated a huge spring fundraiser for someone within the community who has a significant medical need and funding support. Such was the case in March 2020 when organizers planned to help Crystal Wing with her medical bills.

Crystal was diagnosed on her 35th birthday in 2018 with stage IV colon cancer. She had surgery to remove the tumor from her colon and her pathology report confirmed it was cancer. Crystal then had two port placements so she could begin chemotherapy. Later, her liver biopsy came back as cancer. Another surgery was done to try to remove it. This resulted in two liver abscesses needing drains placed, so and she had to be on at-home antibiotics for a month. At that point, Crystal transferred her care to Duke, where she remained on chemotherapy. The liver cancer continued to grow, so radioactive seeds were placed in her liver. Another scan came back which showed that the blood flow was diminished. Crystal’s cancer spread to the lungs, lymph nodes and abdomen.

The planned Love Thy Neighbor events were put on hold by the pandemic, but organizers promised to follow through as soon as the time seemed right.

Doctors tried everything possible, but sadly Crystal passed away on May 13, 2020. Left to cherish her memory is husband, Daniel Wing, and her young daughter, Rose. Her family was left with overwhelming medical bills. The proceeds from this event will go to benefit her family.

The Love Thy Neighbor event is much more than just the races for all ages and abilities. There is a huge breakfast and silent auction at Concordia Lutheran Church at 185 Concordia Church Road. People come to be part of the greater good and receive the blessings of their involvement. Jason Ritchie said, “This thing just gets bigger easier each year. It’s much like the Loaves and Fishes parable, there always has been a way to make things work out. In the end, we’ve helped fill a need and we look forward to doing it again.”

The race schedule for Rowan County is slowly returning to normal, but August has no races and September looked slim too. The Love Thy Neighbor 5K, 10K and fun run events were already supported by the Salisbury Rowan Runners with a financial contribution and timing equipment, but the date moving to the fall for this year only provided a new opportunity. The running community needed a full- fledged race and Love Thy Neighbor organizers were ready to step their races up to a more complete running event.

On Sept. 11, for the first time, all runners and walkers will use an accurately measured course and each one will receive an individual time. All times will be posted as will complete results that include overall and age group winners. Awards will be presented at a 10:45 a.m. ceremony. All registered runners and walkers will get a free breakfast too.

Unique to this race is a very rural and beautiful race course where participant safety will be provided by the Atwell Volunteer Fire Department. Water stops are available at several locations. At present, this is the only scheduled run/walk in the area for the day. Your participation benefits the Wing family medical bills.

A huge silent auction and breakfast will also happen inside the church beginning at 7 a.m. Bidding on the auction will close at 11 a.m. at about the same time the run/walk awards conclude. Consider coming and lending your support, either by participation in the races, silent auction or breakfast. Or all of them!

Contact Jason Ritchie at 704-202-4975 for more information or how to make a donation.

Look for more information on these races and other events ahead at