MAHTOMEDI, Minn. (WCCO) — This week’s Community Spotlight winner is about how the death of a beloved coach, has inspired his student-athletes to give back.
It’s still a month before the track and field season gets under way, but student-athletes at Mahtomedi High School can’t wait.
The reason has less to do with hurdles and more to do with the memory of an old coach.
“He would come there every day. Just knowing how hard of a time he was having, he would just smile no matter what,” said junior Tera Destache.
Destache is talking about Bill Gangl, a long-time track coach who, in 2009, lost his battle with cancer.
“He was extremely giving and had a huge heart. He always wanted to help kids,” said Mahtomedi track coach Matt Young.
But Coach Gangl’s legacy of giving is still running strong in the form of a unique relay.
“I think it will be a Mahtomedi tradition. In 50 years I hope to come back and be able to see it,” said senior Brenton Braddock.
In April the track and field team will take part in the 3rd annual, 24-hour relay in memory of Coach Gangl.
They split up into teams and they take turns walking or running for 24 straight hours- day or night, rain or shine. Last year they ran over 800 miles and raised over $11,000, half of which went to the American Cancer Society.
Gangl’s wife, Megan Gangl, knows her husband would be proud and touched that many of his inspirational quotes find themselves on the back of his student’s t-shirts.
“Basically, they were all about living each day fully, loving each other, and making the most of your life. Don’t just wait for the future to do something, do it now,” Megan Gangl said.
Coach Young said the team will use part of their Community Spotlight money to buy track equipment, the other half will go to the American Cancer Society.
It’s the same thing they do for their 24-hour relay.