MORGANTOWN — For Ben Tuel, faith is just like lacing up your shoes and putting one foot in front of the other.
That’s how it happened for the New Martinsville native when he arrived at WVU as a freshman chemistry major in fall 1995.
“I had been running the other way as far as faith and church were concerned,” said Tuel, who is now an area director for Young Life — an ecumenical outreach organization that provides encouragement and direction to children and teenagers.
The sudden, wrenching death of Tuel’s father when he was teenager had sent him reeling.
On campus, he connected with a group of WVU students who weren’t shy about proclaiming their Christianity.
“I just knew that I wanted what they had,” he said. “And that’s where we are today.”
Tuel and his wife, Laura, are the Mountaineer Area directors for Young Life’s presence in north-central West Virginia.
They help direct group gatherings and other activities for some 500 students in middle schools and high schools across Monongalia, Marion and Taylor counties, along with helping oversee the Young Life chapter at WVU.
Come Aug. 25, the Tuels are hoping you lace up your shoes and put one foot in front of the other for Young Life.
The second annual MORE FUN RUN 5K moves out at 9 a.m. that day at White Park Trails. Registration (rain or shine) is at 7:30 a.m., and all proceeds benefit Mountaineer Area Young Life and its year-round activities in the region.
Every runner gets a T-shirt and chip-timing, Tuel said.
Visit https://mountaineerarea.younglife.org/Pages/default.aspx for more information.
There’s even a “race,” he said, for people who would rather not. It’s called the “No-K, 5K,” it’s also part of the day’s fun.
“It might be that running’s not your thing,” Tuel said. “Plus, we have Young Life alumni everywhere. You can register and we’ll send your T-shirt to Oklahoma.”
And, he said, you’ll know exactly what your Young Life dollars will do here, he said.
If your kid is in Young Life, he said, you especially know of its outreach here.
There are regular meetings during the school year (called “club,” in Young Life parlance), plus camps and other weekend excursions.
It’s what Young Life has been doing since its founding in Texas in 1941, Laura Tuel said. Today, there are Young Life chapters across the U.S. and across the world in 75 countries.
In the meantime, Mountaineer Area Young Life is celebrating its 25th anniversary this fall. It’s a three-part celebration, Ben Tuel said.
There’s the 5K, then a Young Life Tailgate at the WVU-Kansas State football game in Morgantown Sept. 22. The annual Young Life banquet this year is Oct. 21, he said.
With two children of their own — plus 500 more in their faith family — Laura Tuel laughed and said that Young Life is a busy life.
“But that’s what we do.”