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'Tigger Run' to be held in memory of Edison teen

Nathan Toal

Nathan Toal

EDISON, Ga. -- An Edison family is taking on the goal of bringing new life to a retreat in North Carolina as a means to help keep their son alive.

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The Toal family

In order to help with that, they are hosting a fundraiser this weekend.

"The Tigger Run," in memory of Nathan James Toal, is being held at the Dapady Ranch -- located at 137 Dapady Ranch Circle in Edison -- on Saturday.

Nathan was killed in a Jeep accident on his family's farm on March 26, 2012 at the age of 15. The run set for Saturday is part of The Nathan Project, an undertaking of roughly $250,000 for the expansion and remodeling of the Living Waters in Balsam Grove, N.C. -- a Christian retreat that Nathan and his siblings have attended, and where his parents were engaged.

Nathan's mother, Carla Toal, described her son -- a football and basketball player at Southwest Georgia Academy in Damascus -- as an individual who loved life and was full of energy.

It was a reputation that earned him a nickname based off the Winnie the Pooh character "Tigger," which is where the name of the event is derived from.

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Nathan Toal

"We wanted to remember his life," Toal said. "He was an unusual kid in that he didn't care what anyone thought of him. He lived life wide open.

"Our kids have grown up there (at Living Waters). They shaped who Nathan was and who our kids are now."

At the retreat, there is a barn facility that is used as a worship space. Wishing to do something in remembrance of him, Nathan's family opted to launch a fundraising campaign to help increase the floor size and change the roof structure on the building to allow for an upper level to be added.

A website dedicated to the project was set up by the family, which has contributed to it financially through a percentage of a month's advertising sales being donated to it -- as have various other donations coming into Living Waters.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 350 people signed up for Saturday's event. At that time, there was roughly $20,000-$30,000 left to raise for the initiative.

Toal said that if her son were here to see the time and effort put into the project, he would be very much in his element.

"(Nathan) was the kind of kid that was very comfortable in his own skin," Toal said. "His personality was boisterous and out there; he sucked up the energy in the room.

"He thrived on attention. I've wondered if God made him that way because He knew his life would be short."

This run is something Toal said she would anticipate being done on an annual basis.

"It (The Nathan Project) has helped us to heal," she said. "It is a devastating thing. There is nothing like losing a child."

Even though the initial goal is $250,000, that amount does not include the various items that will be needed to fill the worship center out, including speaker systems, Toal said.

The event, taking place on a site named for Nathan's grandfather, will start with a one-mile fun run at 8:30 a.m. followed by a 9 a.m. 5K walk and run trail. A second order of T-shirts has been put in, but since it is not expected to arrive before Saturday, at least some shirts will likely have to be mailed out later, Toal said.

Nathan had a habit of writing sayings and quotations under his bunk bed, which will be on display along the route Saturday, Toal said

Complimentary barbecue sandwiches will be offered to those running. There will also be awards given out by age group as well as for the best dressed "Tigger," Toal said.

"We want it to be fun, because that was what Nathan was about," his mother said.

"The main thing about Nathan is that we know where he is. To me losing a child...with a child, you don't need to get hung up on the little things -- you need to focus on the majors. I hope that is the most important thing people understand from this.

"I don't know what he can see (of what is going on now), but I think he understands what is going on."

More information on the event and how to register is available via Facebook or online at http://www.slumpys.com/The-Nathan-Project. The telephone contacts are Heather Dismukes at (229) 310-1284, and Maureen Gunsolus at (229) 561-5130.

Those wishing to donate to the cause can make checks payable to Living Waters, 7935 Parkway Road, Balsam Grove, N.C., 28708 and write "The Nathan Project" in the memo portion of the check.