LUBBOCK, Texas — Runners will arrive at the Silent Wings Museum bright and early to race in a 5k, 10k, half marathon or one mile kids’ event on what would’ve been Commander Willie McCool’s 62nd birthday. McCool, a 1978 graduate of Coronado High School, was tragically killed in the Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster 20 years ago. According to Race Director, Ainsley Nelson, this is a way to honor all he did for the nation.  

“It’s a way to honor a Lubbock hero,” said Nelson. “It’s just a celebration of America, a celebration of Willie.”  

The event not only honors McCool, but West Texas Endurance will also donate to the Commander Willie McCool Memorial Scholarship. The award is for senior honor students at Coronado who have hopes of pursuing a career in STEM, just like McCool.  

Nelson also said this year’s race is going to be a big one.   

“We’ve got over 300 people running the half marathon, 5k and 10k, and then again 100 of the kids running in the one mile,” Nelson said. “It’s a great course, highlighting some of the beautiful parts of Lubbock, and we’re excited to be out there tomorrow morning.” 

Although it takes a lot of work to get everything together, the group is grateful to have a chance to honor McCool with an event he would’ve enjoyed himself.  

“It’s great for families to get outside and run, so it’s always a great opportunity to celebrate his life and what he contributed to our country and in doing something he loved, which was running,” said Nelson.  

The event kicks off here at the Silent Wings Museum at 7:55 a.m., but if you haven’t registered you still can until 7:45 a.m. on Saturday.  For more information, you can visit this website.