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Doing the Deckers Dash: 5K raises money for FODC

Too bad Stokey wasn’t stoked about the yoga. He would have owned Downward-facing Dog.

But that didn’t mean, however, that the Old English Shepherd wasn’t friendly, on a sun-soaked Sunday morning at Marilla Park.

The laid-back Stokey bestowed a tail-wag and nuzzle to everyone he met, while he waited for someone he knew to cross the finish line.

The occasion was the Deckers Dash 5K.

It’s an annual, wade-right-in fundraiser for Friends of Deckers Creek, the nonprofit, environmental group that has watched over its namesake watershed since its founding in 1995.

A “Trout Trot” fun-run for kids and bounce-house were also on the bill.

Yoga and other techniques in the art of staying calm were offered by BlissBlissBliss, a Morgantown holistic center.

(Un)muddying the water

There was nothing calming about Deckers Creek 24 years ago.

When the sun glinted off the tributary then, all the colors of the rainbow were evident — just not in a harmonious way.

The hues were hazardous. They were the result of all the pollution that fouled the creek, from acid mine drainage and raw sewerage to just-plain garbage.

Deckers Creek — all 35 miles of it, from Arthurdale to Morgantown — was dying.

It didn’t take long for its Friends to get to work.

Three cleanups along the banks in those early days resulted in 12 tons of solid waste being carted away.

Just last week, a ranking administrator with the EPA called on the organization to watch them at work — and to learn what they’re doing with a recent $120,000 grant awarded from the national agency.

Sarah Cayton, who is the Friends executive director, said tending to the watershed is like watching over a hospital patient in the middle of a lengthy recovery.

“There are some sites where Deckers was completely dead and now we’re seeing fish come back,” Cayton said.

On Sunday, she said, the watershed was sparkling in a sea of altruism.

“I’m pleased with the turnout today,” she said. “Everyone who came out today is here for Deckers Creek.”

Walk, don’t run (and the other way around)

Numbered among the friends of the Friends on this day, meanwhile, were serious runners with their chronograph wristwatches.

There were joggers, power-walkers and those who sauntered in a purposeful way along the 5K circuit, which looped around Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park.

Moms and dads did their cardio with their kids.

Several of them were out there, pushing babies and toddlers in those three-wheeled, aerodynamic running-strollers from Thule, the Swedish company known for its designs and innovations in that market.

It didn’t long for Matthew Baird to do his work on Sunday.

He was the first to cross to finish line, and he did so in just under 18 minutes.

It was still a metaphorical saunter, though, he said.

“For me, it’s therapy being out here,” he said.
“I appreciate the scenery. I appreciate what Friends of Deckers Creek are doing.”

Stokey, meanwhile, was patient.

He stayed closed to his two-legged, toddler brothers, Dominic and Isaac, who were parked by their dad, Steve Toth.

The family, towheads and fur included, was waiting for mom, Amanda Toth, to cross to finish line.

“We have Dominic and Isaac outside all the time,” Steve Toth said. “We love the trails and the greenspaces and the water.”

“Mommy,” Isaac said, looking up.

“Hey, guys,” she said, with nary a pant. “Made it.”
Stokey answered with a tail-thump.

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