More than 500 people – family, friends and those who just wanted to support a guy in the fight of his life – gathered at Marathon Park on Sunday to run or walk five miles in support of Todd McDougall, the Olympia High School baseball coach who’s now battling brain cancer.
The five-mile event and McDougall family fundraiser, called “Miles for McDougall,” was co-organized by Tessa Effland, a longtime friend and soccer coach at Olympia High.
Effland expected about 250 people on Sunday.
“Anything over that will be awesome,” she said.
Effland got awesome and then some.
A steady stream of people began arriving at Marathon Park before noon and by the 1:11 p.m. race start time – so picked because McDougall taught in classroom 111 – hundreds had parked their cars along Deschutes Parkway and hundreds more were ready to run or walk.
Julie McDougall, Todd’s wife, said she was happy for her children and her husband to see all the support.
“Olympia is an amazing community to do this,” she said.
Todd McDougall, 42, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in mid-December after an extended period of flu-like symptoms. Chemotherapy and radiation didn’t shrink the tumor – it actually grew larger – and now they’re on to a new treatment to try and increase his brain functions, Julie McDougall said.
Todd McDougall was in a wheelchair Sunday, set to be pushed through the race by longtime friend and Capital High School Principal Chris Woods.
Although McDougall is in the fight of his life, he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
Asked whether he thought Woods could push him through the race, he shook his head and said, “No.”
It was clear Sunday that McDougall, a baseball coach, assistant football coach and English teacher at Olympia High, has touched a lot of lives.
Tommy and Valerie Dunlap of McCleary said they showed up after learning about the run on Facebook, just “wanting to get involved.”
Dorothy Espedal-Johnson and Lisa Rehberger of Olympia were among a group of people who showed up to support the McDougalls.
Both have sons who played on a little league baseball team coached by McDougall.
Rehberger said he infused the team with a great camaraderie and spirit, and, unlike a lot of coaches, he made sure every player, no matter their ability, got a chance to hit and play every position in the field.
“I want to help out in any way I can,” Espedal-Johnson said. “It’s a hard time.”
Olympia High School senior Andrew Cain said he, too, wanted to show his support for the recovery of Coach McDougall.
Cain, who took one of McDougall’s English classes, said he felt McDougall genuinely cared about his students.
Cain also sought McDougall’s advice about his future last year, deciding, after talking to him, that he could pursue a career in physics.
“I wasn’t sure I could do the work, but with his help, I knew I could,” Cain said.
Before Sunday’s race, longtime friend Woods led everyone in a short prayer.
“He means so much to each and everyone of us,” Woods said about McDougall.Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/bizblog