LUBBOCK, Texas – The Willie McCool Memorial race kicks off on Saturday, honoring the late Lubbock hero and Nasa Astronaut. 

Willie McCool was a graduate from Coronado High School who then went on to attend the Naval Academy. McCool then became a Nasa Astronaut, leading his team into flight on Space Shuttle Columbia when it was tragically destroyed upon reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere in 2003. 

His family and community, honoring his passion and love for running through a marathon each year. 

“I think it’s really great, it gives us coverage on the fact that Willie was a long distance runner, and it keeps Willie’s memory alive, especially here in Lubbock, Texas,” said Barry McCool, Willie’s Father. 

Barry, saying Willie would be proud to have a race in his name,  “He’d be really pleased since running was a major portion of his life, I think he would look at it from the standpoint that this provides people with a means of exercise, to get out and in the fresh air, and to do things together as a family. And still he would be proud to have his name attached to it.”

As for Willie becoming an astronaut, his family said it came at no surprise, “Knowing Willie… knowing his background, it’s not a great surprise he was was accepted, you would expect that he would qualify and be accepted as long as you could pass the physical,” said Audrey McCool, Willie’s Mother. 

Both parents are excited to see the community come out for the race.

“Watching the little kids is fun. I mean, the marathoners, they’re kind of like the pros but it’s the little kids that kind of make the day,” said Audrey. 

The race will be tomorrow, September 17 at the Silent Wings Museum, registration begins at 6:30 am. 

For more information on the race you can visit the website here