In 2001, eight members of the University of Wyoming cross-country team, ages 19 to 22, were killed when their vehicle was ripped apart by a drunk driver, who was also a student at the school.
“It was just a horrible accident,” said Carol Mead, the wife of Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead. “That was an accident that just resonated in everyone’s minds across the state. It was so preventable.”
To honor the memory of the victims, the university’s foundation recently established an alcohol-awareness endowment called “Wyoming Remember the 8,” which will award competitive mini-grants to support Wyoming students in taking leadership roles to prevent the misuse of alcohol among high school and college students.
On November 3, the First Lady of Wyoming will return to the city of her birth to lead a “Remember the 8” fundraising team running the ING New York City Marathon. It fits in perfectly, she said, with her primary initiative as First Lady: to tackle children’s issues, especially those involving poor choices and risky behavior.
Each runner must raise at least $3,000. Despite Mead’s concern that the $3,000 requirement might make recruiting difficult, “within a little over a week, that team was full,” she said of the squad, which consists of 10 runners besides herself. “Everyone seemed to understand that we were trying to create an endowment the first year.”
It will be the fourth marathon for Mead, who was born in the Bronx but whose family moved to the West when she was a child. “I’m not concerned with the time,” said Mead. “If I finish anywhere between four hours and 4:30, I’ll be happy. I understand, though, that it’s a tough course with a lot of hills, so that might be optimistic.”
With her busy schedule, Mead often begins her Cheyenne runs at 5:00 a.m.
“It’s not unusual to get a half-marathon in before the day starts,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed more beautiful sunrises. It’s a great social life with friends, and a great way to get to know them. It’s a great thing to have people committed to the cause at this level.”
Her training hasn’t come without a few hitches. Last year, Mead was planning to run the ING New York City Marathon for an anti–drunk-driving organization called “Mariah’s Challenge,” and she was in NYC when the race was cancelled after Superstorm Sandy. This year, she was scheduled to tune up by running the Boulder Marathon last weekend until it was postponed because of the severe flooding in Colorado.
But when she finally hits the streets of New York on November 3, she will have a very special fan in town.
“My mother is 92, and I’m bringing her back to New York,” said Mead. “She is absolutely over the moon. She hasn’t been back in 40 years.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg