By MARC STEWART
Mark Weadick remembers ice fishing on New Year’s Day nearly 40 years ago when he saw a group of people jogging around Fernan Lake.
He recalled it was too cold and too early to be running anywhere except inside.
“I wondered what these crazies were doing out there,” said the 79-year old Coeur d’Alene resident. “The next year I was one of them. I’ve been coming to the Hangover Handicap for many years after that.”
Monday morning Weadick and his son, Tom, prepared to tackle the race once more — only Mark elected to walk the 5-mile run on the Centennial Trail, along Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive.
“I’ve been running this with my dad since high school,” said Tom Weadick. “It’s always a lot of fun.”
The Weadicks were among the 210 participants in the 41st annual Hangover Handicap, which serves as a fundraiser for Tesh, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
“Old habits are hard to break,” said Mark Weadick. “I’ve done so many over the last 30 years that it’s a tradition. Tesh is a great organization. My daughter has a degree of Down syndrome. Tesh helps people with disabilities.”
It was a common story among those getting ready to run, as fathers, mothers, sons and daughters explained their reasons for running.
“This is a family,” said Tesh CEO Frances Huffman. “You’ll find that most of the peole in this race having some kind of connection to a person with special needs. It makes the Hangover Handicap special.”
The nonprofit offers support services — life and employment skills training, job coaching and counseling, and child development services — to Kootenai County residents with disabilities.
“My son who is now an adult, suffered a traumatic brain injury,” said Susan Fairfax, a Coeur d’Alene resident. “Tesh helps integrate people back into a normal life.”
Handicap Hangover lasted about an hour. Dorothy Gallus, an eighth-grader from Rathdrum was the first female to finish and Derek Garcia of Coeur d’Alene was the first male participant to cross the finish line. He said he stayed up late to ring in 2018.
“This is fun to be a part of this community,” said Garcia. “This run is a good way to kick off the new year.”