MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - It was a beautiful day for a run or walk in Meridian Township, especially one for a good cause.
The Will Goodale Memorial Foundation held the first annual Will’s Run 5k at the Meridian Township Municipal Building, but this was more than just a run.
“If you're running you may feel a slight breeze run past you or if you're walking you may feel like someones in the same room as you," said Shane Goodale. "Ronda and I like to think that that's going to be our Will with you."
Will Goodale was born January 7, 2005 at Sparrow Hospital to Ronda and Shane Goodale. Growing up in the Haslett school districts Will fell in love with math, reading, history, kickball and police officers.
“It was fourth grade and Spring break he wanted to go out to the academy because he initially wanted a model car,” said Will's mom Ronda Goodale. “So, we took him out there to get one and we ended up getting a tour of the facility and Will got to go out on the course and the instructor took him out on about three or four laps.”
Will’s dream was to become a police officer someday with the Meridian Township Police Department or the Michigan State Police Department and be a member of the SWAT team.
Those who knew Will knew he was a bright, happy and helpful kid to everyone he came in contact with.
“We had one classmate tell us that Will saw that she really wanted to join, but didn’t feel like she was confident enough and he told her ‘yeah, you are, you can do this,’” Ronda said. “And he encouraged her every day at recess to come out and from then on she would go out every day; that’s just who Will was.”
In June of 2015, Will was diagnosed with a DIPG tumor on his brain stem which is the fastest growing children’s tumor. Will fought hard with treatment, but passed away in November of 2015.
But his legacy will live on forever.
The Will Goodale Foundation was created in 2015 by Will’s parents to carry out his bright spirit and dream of becoming a police officer.
“It dawned on me to set up a foundation to memorialize his name and then it later came to us that we’re going to offer the scholarships to further his dream and others achieve his goal of being a police officer,” Shane said.
The Foundation has set up several events throughout the year to raise money to provide scholarships to students who are entering a police academy and to carry out Will’s legacy through what he loved doing.
“There’s nothing better than someone coming up to us and saying ‘oh you’re Will’s dad’ or ‘you’re Will’s mom’,” Shane said. “You got that right I’m his dad and that’s my boy.”
“I think that it’s probably any parents fear when something like this happens,” Ronda said. “That your child is forgotten and it’s obvious that he’s not forgotten.”
Anyone wishing to pay tribute to Will can visit the tree planted in the south-east corner of Ralya Elementary playground or by playing on of Will’s favorite games of kickball in the field behind the elementary school.
The next event for the Will Goodale Memorial Foundation will be the Kickball games on September 8, 2018 with the ribbon-cutting grand opening of Towner Road Park in Meridian Township with activities for all ages to enjoy.
If you cannot attend an event, but would like to make a donation to the Will Goodale Memorial Foundation visit their website at willgoodale.com.