Virtual 5k’s have become more and more normal these days due to the rise of COVID-19. Charitable organizations are using these events in lieu of actual 5k’s to raise money for their organizations. The Wes Strong Foundation is no exception.
Wes Pak, whom the event is named after, was an amazing young man. He was a member of the Galactic Academy, and honorary member of the 501st Legion. Wes was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at age 5 . Wes fought for 7.5 years and relapsed 5 times before passing at the age of 12 in 2018. He started a toy drive for the holidays called Wes’ Wish, just after he was diagnosed to give to the other children fighting cancer.
The Wes Strong Foundation is now hosting a virtual 5k to raise money for children with cancer. I had the privilege of chatting with Wes’ mother Krista, the head of the foundation, to find out more about the event.
Geek News Now (GNN): Tell me a little bit about Wes for whom the foundation is named for.
Krista Pak (KP): Wes was a young boy from Yorktown, VA. He was a big brother, son, friend, and fellow geek. He loved Doctor Who, Supernatural, Star Wars and gaming. He was a member of the Galactic Academy, honorary member of the 501st Legion, and honorary Friend of the Legion. He was the first to play Fallout 76 outside of company employees prior to its release, and was gifted an autographed prototype of the helmet from the game (may have read about it in news stories – Wes passed right before the game was publicly released).
Many would say he was wise beyond his years. He would spend hours watching animal and world history documentaries. He craved knowledge and loved to quiz everyone around him. He was passionate about the environment and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. By 12 years old he already knew where he wanted to attend college and was inquiring about how to be awarded scholarships. He was a selfless, caring individual, always thinking about how others had it worse off than he did.
GNN: He sounds like an amazing child. You are now doing a virtual 5K in his honor what are you raising money for and what is the name of the event?
KP: The proceeds from the Wes Strong Virtual 5k will allow us to provide support for pediatric cancer families as well as financial support for injured wildlife through our programs and services. We provide financial assistance to families and are working on a new program that would provide travel gaming systems to fighters. We are 100% volunteer-based, so the funding from the 5k would make a direct impact on children battling cancer and wildlife who truly need the help.
GNN: When does the event take place and what does the run include for those that sign up?
KP: The event is set for June 14-28th. Registration is open from now until June 28th. Participants can choose between 2 packages when registering. One includes a downloadable bib and finisher’s medal. The other includes a downloadable bib, finisher’s medal and event t-shirt.
GNN: So there are different tiers of donations people can give at? Will you also accept donations from those that don’t want to run?
KP: There are two tiers. The first package is priced at $35.00. The second is $40.00. We appreciate any and all support. For those that wish to make a donation, they can do so on our website www.WesStrong.org. All donations are tax-deductible.
GNN: You had mentioned before that Wes was a part of the 501st. Is that the reason that the completion medal has the Scout Trooper on it? Did Wes troop as a Scout Trooper?
KP: Yes, the image for the 5k was inspired by a photo of Wes doing his iconic pose that was taken while trooping as a Biker Scout with the 501st Legion.