BENWOOD - The late Debbie Green, and the race named after her, have roots in Benwood - roots that were nourished by another Benwood resident, the late Undo Sparachane.
In honor of Sparachane, race organizers dedicated the Green Mile segment of the 17th Annual Debbie Green 5K Run/Walk for Leukemia to him. The Green Mile begins race festivities at 7 p.m. tonight in Wheeling.
Anthony "Herk" Sparachane said his father would be honored to have his name tied to the race.
Photo by Fred Connors
Herk Sparachane say his late father, Undo, would be pleased with how much the Debbie Green 5K Run/Walk for Leukemia has grown.
"My dad liked kids," Sparachane said. "He would do anything for kids. He would be thrilled about having part of the race dedicated to him."
Debbie Green was a 7-year-old girl from Benwood who was diagnosed with leukemia in 1970. On February 10, 1972, friends from all over the Ohio Valley put on a benefit show for her in Benwood, calling it Debbie Green Day. She lost her battle two months later on April 4.
Sparachane said his father and other family members have always supported the race.
"The race started in Benwood," he said. "But it became too big and moved to Wheeling. My father would be thrilled to know how much it has grown. It has become one of the top 250 races in the world."
In addition to continually being a sponsor of the race, the Sparachane family liked to stay involved.
"All of our family members who can will be walking or running in the race," Sparachane said.
As an addition to their race involvement, Sparachane and Monica Melko have raised more than $100,000 through their Links for Life program, the proceeds of which go to the Debbie Green race effort.
Undo Sparachane, who founded Undo's Famiglia Ristorante Benwood in 1953, passed away at age 92 on April 11.