WEST JEFFERSON — Ashe’s runners took the street to raise money for the West Jefferson Lions Club in the annual Jim Snyder Christmas Tree 5k and Fun Walk.

Lions Club president Gwynita Steele said 30 runners pre-registered but many registered the day of the event with around 40 to 50 runners participating in the race and fun walk.

According to Steele, all the proceeds from the race are donated to the visually impaired and for eye exams, glasses and other related services as well as to other civic causes the Lions Club supports, such as the bike giveaway hosted by the Ashe’s local Walmart with the Ashe County Sheriff’s Department.

West Jefferson Lions Club has hosted the 5k race for around 10 years, according to Steele.

Prizes for race winners, including Christmas trees and wreaths, were donated by local Christmas tree growers through the Ashe County Christmas Tree Growers Association, Steele said.

The men’s winner for the race was Andrew Nicholson, who completed the challenging, largely uphill 5k in 21.4956 minutes. Second place was Robert Hughes, who finished in 24.0157 minutes and third place was awarded to Sam Hudler who finished at 23.5474 minutes.

In the women’s division, Annette Bednosky won first place finishing in 26.0365 minutes. Christina Wagonor won second place, finishing in 35.4122 minutes. Amelia Weaver won women’s third place by completing the race in 35.0140 minutes.

The race is named after a longtime Lions Club member, Jim Snyder, who joined in 2014 and is a well-known distance runner who has run more than 550 marathons, almost 15,000 miles in all 50 states and Canada. A member of the 50 States Marathon Club, he has run the Boston Marathon nine times and has had a stretch of NC163 from Nettle Knob Road to Taylor Ranch Road as “Snyder’s Run” in his honor by friends and coworkers.

Snyder is also a Vietnam veteran wounded in combat and a lifetime member of the Jefferson Veterans of Foreign Wars. For five years Snyder has been chairman of the Christmas Tree 5k and has provided important leadership for the Lions Club through his service.

To learn more about the West Jefferson Lions Club and their work, visit facebook.com/WJLions.

Marisa Mecke is a Report for America corps member for Mountain Times Publications. Report for America is a national nonprofit service program which places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under covered issues.

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