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5K to honor late firefighter, benefit Youngwood VFD

| Thursday, April 16, 2015, 8:00 p.m.
Youngwood volunteer firefighter Edwin “Jeff” Wentzel, 57, was killed by a train while searching for a missing woman beneath the Westinghouse Bridge. He had been with the department for 35 years.
Youngwood volunteer firefighter Edwin “Jeff” Wentzel, 57, was killed by a train while searching for a missing woman beneath the Westinghouse Bridge. He had been with the department for 35 years.

Youngwood borough and firefighters will remember one of their own next month in a race.

The Jeffrey “Lance” Wentzel 5K Run and Walk will be held 9 a.m. May 17 in the borough.

Wentzel, 57, a Youngwood firefighter and an avid runner, died March 22, 2014, after being struck by a train in North Versailles while he was searching with others for a missing woman. The Allegheny County medical examiner's office ruled his death an accident.

“We wanted to honor him in this way, in cooperation with his family,” said Tina Nobile, president of the Youngwood Area Business Association, the race sponsor.

Wentzel served as a firefighter for 35 years and volunteered at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Ironically, Wentzel signed up first for the race in its first year two years ago, when the proceeds benefitted the new borough playground, Lloyd Crago, borough council president and Youngwood fire chief, said.

“We think this is a nice tribute to him,” Crago said. “Everybody probably knew Lance from seeing him running around town.”

Proceeds from the event this time will go to the fire department.

Borough firefighters have decided to use the money to set up a scholarship fund at Westmoreland County Community College in Wentzel's memory for a student interested in majoring in fire science or a related public service field, Crago said.

The fire department is in the early stages of planning, the chief added.

The business association expects to continue the tribute to Wentzel in the future, Nobile said.

Last year, the business association forwarded about $6,000, most raised from the race, to the new community playground beside the municipal building, organizers said.

They hope 300 to 500 participants will take to the race course this year, including area firefighters, Nobile said.

Last year, more than 300 runners and walkers took part, she said.

The race will go from the fire hall, to the Five Star Trail and then wind through the community college, organizers said.

Competitions will be held in seven different age groups.

The pre-race application cost is $20 per participant. Forms are available at various Youngwood businesses and must be postmarked by May 10.

They can be mailed to YABA, 20 S. Fourth Street, Youngwood, Pa. 15697, marked in care of 5K run or walk.

To register on the business association's website, visit www.youngwoodbusinessassociation.com.

Registration will begin 7:30-7:45 a.m. the day of the race. Cost then will be $25.

A participant can run or walk with a dog for a $5 extra fee, Nobile said.

A kids fun run will precede the race-walk.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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