From left, former Atlanta Braves bullpen coach Bobby Dews stands with Anna Toal, sister of the late Nathan Toal, and Tyler Adams at the March 30 Tigger Run at Edison. Nathan Toal, at age 15, died in a car accident in 2012. The event benefits The Nathan Project, which is aiming to raise $250,000 for a Christian retreat in North Carolina known as Living Waters. (April 5, 2013)
EDISON, Ga. -- Even though he died at a young age, Nathan Toal still has managed to leave a legacy.
The "Tigger Run," held March 30 in Edison to support "The Nathan Project," raised $23,500. After all the expenses to put on the event are accounted for, there will be $18,000-$19,000 that goes directly into that project, those close to the initiative say. The money is to be used to help fund an expansion and renovation of a Christian retreat known as Living Waters in North Carolina.
Nathan Toal died at the age of 15 on March 26, 2012 as a result of a Jeep accident on his family's farm in Edison.
Rob Toal, Nathan's father, said that there were roughly 400-450 individuals overall who participated in the event either as runners or as volunteers, with about 200 taking part in the 5K walk and run.
"We are really, really excited," he said. "I think we will do this as an annual thing."
The name of the event, which also included a one-mile fun run, was derived from the Winnie the Pooh character after whom the Southwest Georgia Academy athlete was nicknamed.
It was a nickname that, by all accounts, fit with his personality very well.
"He was an unusual kid in that he didn't care what anyone thought of him," his mother, Carla Toal, said in a March 27 interview with The Albany Herald. "He lived life wide open."
The initial goal for the project was $250,000. The money raised at future events will likely fund parts of the Living Waters restoration not included in that amount, as well as some other charities or ministries dear to the Toal family, Rob Toal said.
Living Waters was a retreat that Nathan and his siblings had attended and the place where his parents were engaged. Before the race, "The Nathan Project" was about $20,000-$30,000 short of its goal.
The late teen's shotgun was used to start the race, which was led by his horse, Stitch. At the suggestion of two family members, the event was scheduled to coincide with the first anniversary of Nathan's memorial service.
"I was completely overwhelmed at the amount of help that we received," Carla Toal said in an email to The Herald on Friday. "It's like so many people just wanted to reach out and help. There was a great outpouring of love, and the atmosphere was fun. Many people that came out just came to support us and had never run or walked a 5K before. We were blown away by the event, and most of the people that I talked to afterwards immediately started talking about what we would do 'next year.'
"We were humbled and thankful for all the love and support."
Rob Toal said that, for next year, there will likely be a 10K race added -- and that there will be more outreach efforts to area runners' clubs to help build participation.
"This year, there were a lot of Nathan's friends and their parents participating," he said. "We want to keep that crowd, and get more competitive runners in."
In the 5K, there were first- and second-place male and female winners recognized for the age categories of 13 and under, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49 and 50 and up. The first place overall winner was Jonathon Davison from Early County High School at 18:17.
Nathan's brother, Ben Toal, came in first place in the age 20-29 category at 25:44.
The one-mile fun run had first and second place winners for ages 13 and under, and 14 and over, for male and female. They were Grant Tye, Aiden Bruner, Caroline Middleton, Abbygail Brooks, Tobbie Lockler, Conner Collins, Kayla Stephens and Kathy Bantz.
"I think Nathan would have been really pleased (with the results of the event)," Rob Toal said. "The 'Tigger Run' ... kept us busy at a real difficult time."
For more information on the project and its cause, visit http://www.slumpys.com/The-Nathan-Project.