Bloomsday 2019: race organizers honor beloved volunteer for years of service
SPOKANE, Wash. — Every year at Bloomsday, tens of thousands of runners and walkers are met by hundreds of volunteers as they cross the finish line. Sunday marked the first time in ten years they were missing a familiar face in beloved community member Andrew Vathis.
“Whether you won Bloomsday or you were the last person to cross the finish line, Andrew was there cheering for you,” his friend Rick Chase remembers.
Andrew passed away in January when he was hit by a car as he was crossing 57th Avenue on the South Hill. In the years before Andrew’s death, Rick tells KXLY he never let his disability get in the way of serving others. For the last decade, Rick says Andrew would bus downtown to volunteer for the day.
“He would ask where he could help, you know, he wasn’t part of any organziation or anything, he just asked where he could help,” Rick says of his friend of 25 years. “Most of the time he would hand out t-shirts to people and you know, cheer ’em on, and he’d be there from the elite runners all the way to the very last person to cross the finish line.”
In the months since his death, Rick has watched Andrew’s legacy of love continue to grow. He just accepted Bloomsday’s Spirit Award on behalf of Andrew — given to those who are consistently positive and upbeat at one of Spokane’s biggest events.
“It kind of summarizes Andrew whole life, with that Spirit award,” Rick says.
It’s yet another reminder of the mark Andrew left on this race and this city that he loved so much.
“He loved to volunteer and he absolutely loved people and he didn’t care what kind of person they were,” Rick says. “He just absolutely loved people.”
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