By Shereen Siewert

WESTON — For Steve Goetsch, the annual race that honors the legacy left behind by his 14-year-old son Forrest is always bittersweet, but this year will be especially emotional.

Saturday, June 15 is the the eighth anniversary of the Forrest Goetsch Memorial Run, a two- and five- mile fun run that raises money for a range of local causes through Forrest Goetsch Charities. Forrest Goetsch died in 2009 during a D.C. Everest High school cross country practice of sudden cardiac failure. He was just 14.

But this year, Steve Goetsch suffered yet another unspeakable loss when Paula Goetsch, Steve’s wife of 26 years, died on New Year’s Day.

“This mission was both mine and Paula’s,” Goetsch said. “I want people to know that even with the loss of Paula, we will go forward. We have incredible support from the community and we’re so grateful for that.”

Forrest was born on Aug. 22, 1995, seven weeks before his due date. He spent more than a month in the neonatal ICU in Marshfield before coming home. He was also born with a rare facial deformity that led to numerous jaw surgeries — more than his family wants to remember.

But Forrest never let those challenges hold him back. He never felt sorry for himself and instead dreamed about the future, always striving for excellence.

The impact Forrest had on his friends and family is hard to overstate. By all accounts, Forrest was an inspiration to all who knew him. Despite his significant health problems, Forrest persevered and was widely known as a leader who motivated all who knew him.

Because Forrest had such a profound impact in his time on Earth, his family formed a nonprofit organization, Forrest Goetsch Charities, to honor his memory in a permanent fashion. The run draws hundreds of participates each year. And to date, the charity has disbursed more than $100,000 in donations to students, organizations, local police departments, and fire departments.

Part of the Forrest Goetsch Charities mission is to recognize organizations and individuals that help people through difficult times. In 2010, the organization established the Forrest Goetsch Memorial Scholarship, presented to a D.C. Everest student recognized for helping others. Later, the scholarship expanded to include Wausau West, Wausau East, Mosinee and Newman High Schools.

Organizations promoting outdoor youth activities and those that promote youth and families are also considered for financial support.

The group is also working toward a future goal of supporting housing for people coming to the Wausau area seeking medical services, Goetsch said.

If you go

  • The event kicks off from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, June 15 with race registration and packet pickup along with a non-traditional fish boil at Dale’s Weston Lanes, 5902 Schofield Ave., Weston.
  • Race day is Saturday, June 16, with race-day registration and packet pickup from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.  The National Anthem plays at 8:55 a.m., with the race starting at 9 a.m.
  • Registration is $30.
  • After the race, stay for post-race refreshments for all participants followed by an award ceremony.
  • Dogs, iPods, in-line skates and bikes are not allowed on the course. Strollers are allowed but must start in the rear. For more information and to register, visit the Forrest’s Run official website.
YouTube video

Video shot and edited by Jack and Joe Micholic of NORTHx Productions. Top image: Screen shot, NORTHx Productions video.