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Youth Horizons / Uncategorized  / An Easter Sun Run Tradition: Wenzel Warriors, Teams

An Easter Sun Run Tradition: Wenzel Warriors, Teams

Easter Sun Run has a rich history of teams and their stories. Some funny. Some sobering. All inspiring. There’s community teams such as Team Zane, formed in memory of Chad and Kaely Blasdel’s son, Zane, who was stillborn on March 23, 2012. There’s school teams such as the Lawrence (Elementary) Lions, comprised of students, teachers, and parents (see story below).

And there’s the mainstay Wenzel Warriors, established in 2010 to honor Youth Horizons’ late cofounder, Jeff Wenzel. The annual 2-mile walk/run event is named in honor of Jeff, who was the executive director of Youth Horizons when he passed from brain cancer on April 21, 2007. Family, friends and staff remember Jeff for his passion for serving young people, his steadfast faithfulness even in illness, and his love for the Easter Sun Run. His widow, Reneene Wenzel, now the Executive Assistant for Residential Programs at Youth Horizons’ Kinloch Price Boys Ranch, shared a favorite story about the 2007 Easter Sun Run. Jeff was weak from the cancer. He attended the event in a wheelchair. He was only weeks away from death but determined to enjoy the community event he helped run. The memory of that frigid day, though still painful, made Reneene smile as she reflected on Jeff’s determination. “I have a picture from 2007,” Reneene said. “It was freezing, 25 degrees. I said, ‘Jeff, we don’t need to do this, because I don’t want to do this. It’s too cold. We wrapped him up in a blanket and quilts. That’s how much he loved the Sun Run. He was shaking. He was cold, but he absolutely enjoyed the Sun Run.” The Wenzel Warriors are joined in their passion and commitment for the event; the 2023 Easter Sun Run has 25 teams. The Wenzel Warriors have had a team as large as 135 members. Reneene’s in-laws, Gale and Joann Wenzel, still attend in their son’s memory.

“It’s meaningful for us all,” she said. It’s such an honor. It’s hard but it’s an honor. It’s always meaningful to me. It means so much that they continue to honor him.”

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