Even after his death, former Centre Police Chief Val Courtney continues to influence others to improve their health and their minds.

This was evidenced by the huge crowd of supporters and participants who showed up for the First Annual Run 4 Val event held Saturday, April 19, in Centre City Park. The inaugural event drew more than 130 runners in all age groups. Proceeds from the event will go toward a scholarship for a student planning to enter the law enforcement or criminal justice field.

The threat of rainfall failed to dampen the spirit of the event. To the contrary, runners and participants seemed even more determined, according to reports.

Following the race, the award ceremony took place in the Centre Armory.

Overall male winners in the 5K were Jeremy Taylor with a time of 20:19, first place; David Williams with a time of 22:04, second place and Paden Sharpe with a time of 23:21, third place.

Overall female winners Katie Pentecost with a time of 22:36, first place; Belva Durham with a time of 23:31, second place and Dusty Gill with a time of 24:17, third place.

Dr. Bill Meehan, president, Jacksonville State University, shared a few words before the race began.

“This is all about a promise that was made by Val a number of years ago to have a scholarship,” said Dr. Meehan. “You are honoring his promise. It is also a promise to these individual runners for their own health. It is a wonderful event for Centre and Jacksonville State University is proud to be a part of it.”

“This is a great run and a great idea,” said Dr. Meehan to the audience of runners and spectators. “Thanks to all the volunteers who made this possible.”

Jan Whitten, one of Chief Courtney’s law enforcement colleagues, invited Dr. Meehan to take part in the event.

“This is great,” said Whitten. “Val’s dream is being fulfilled today. He was a wonderful, wonderful guy, a great law enforcement officer and we are just so proud to have this event today.”

Also present for the event was Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver.

“I think this is great,” said Shaver. “This is a good turnout. It is really a nice thing to do in honor of Val.”

Eva Garner with The Odyssey Health Spa, one of the organizers of the event, said she was pleased with the turnout for Val’s first run.

“Oh my goodness, I am overwhelmed by the support and the amount of people who have shown up in the rain to run this 5K,” said Garner. “It is unbelievable! 130-plus runners!”

“I think our oldest is 77 but we had a lot of people to sign up after I stopped counting,” said Garner.

Garner said they plan to make Val’s Run an annual event.

“We hope that it grows larger and larger each year so we will have a better and bigger scholarship, maybe even be able to provide scholarships for more than just one student,” said Garner.

“It is a scholarship for a criminal law degree,” said Garner. “That is what Val wanted. And so we are wanting to keep it in the criminal law, criminal justice degree area. However, that could expand.”

“I am praying that everybody, when they cross the crosswalk in front of the elementary school and see the photo of Val with his hands out, can remember just as vividly as I do him standing there letting kids cross for all of those years.”

The days events, included several activities, Garner noted.

“We have several awards, door prizes, vendors, a lot of activities inside, we have a memorial video we are going to show,” said Garner. “From here we will take it on to the Odyssey for the motorcycle rally where we have over 30 motorcycles scheduled to ride around Little River Canyon because that was his other love. Proceeds from that goes to victims of domestic violence. It is going to be a good day!”

Caleb Courtney, Val’s nephew, shared a few words as well.

“I am honored by how many people have turned out in support of my uncle,” said Courtney. “It is imressive. He would have loved it. It is an impressive event.”

“He cared for people and spent pretty much his whole career trying to help people,” said Courtney. “People turned out in support of him in recognition of him and I am proud of it.”

Cherokee County Commission Chairman/Probate Judge Kirk Day attended to show his support for former Chief Courtney and the runners as well.

“Val was a great fellow,” said Day. “I thought the world of Chief Courtney. I think this is a great event for the community and I was glad to come out and support it and see all the runners off.”

“I know everybody is a little worried about the weather but it turned out to be a beautiful morning,” said Day. “It is a great day to honor Val and what he meant to this community and I know with the scholarship it is going to make somebody’s future a whole lot easier to obtain their future goals of going into law enforcement.”