By Adam Gibson | Assistant News Editor
The annual Bearathon is taking place this Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. at McLane stadium. This year, however, a group of people will be running for something more than just the goal of finishing the race.
Five years ago, a Baylor senior, Daniel Jones, died while competing in the race. Jones was a member of Kappa Omega Tau (KOT) fraternity and in the years since he passed away, members of KOT and his family have honored him at each race and this year, they plan to bring more awareness to who Jones was.
Monument, Colo., senior Josh Bethany, who has been a member of KOT since fall 2015, said he and several other members have ran the Bearathon for the past few years and now that they know about Jones, desire to run for more than just to race.
“A couple years ago, myself and a couple of buddies ran the Bearathon and it was super fun,” Bethany said. “This year we both just said let’s kick it up a notch and while we were really doing a lot of planning for how we were going to do training this year and training a bunch of the guys in KOT, that’s when we realized about Daniel Jones and how we might be involved in growing his legacy.”
Bethany, along with Waco sophomore Ridley Holmes said they are the main guys in the fraternity planning what they are going to do for the Bearathon. Holmes said they have not only worked within the fraternity to do something for Jones, but they have also spoken to the Student Foundation, Student Senate and Jones’s family.
“I knew that once we got that story out there, guys would be interested,” Holmes said. “I’m in Student Senate so I’ve worked through Student Senate to raise awareness there. We worked with Jordan Hannah over at Student Foundation to help reach out to the family more and make the event a little bit more centered around Daniel. Josh and I have both reached out to some of Daniel’s family who’s been pretty involved with the race since Daniel’s death and we talked with them and got their input and saw what they wanted to get out of this year as well, so it has been a huge collaboration.”
The idea to do something for Jones came up in the fall when Holmes and Bethany met with a former KOT member and Baylor student Michael Miller, Holmes said. Miller wears Jones’ bid number while he runs the race Holmes said. The three of them got together over winter break and planned things out for how involved they were going to be in the Bearathon.
This year, both Holmes and Bethany said they wanted to make a lasting impact on the Bearathon and on Jones’ legacy and keep it from being a one-time occurrence, Bethany said.
“This year we had so many people that after hearing the story, wanted to get involved, that we wanted to make this as big as possible so that drop off doesn’t happen again,” Bethany said. “It’s in the name, KOT stands for Kappa Omega Tau, but it’s also knights of tradition and we want to make this a tradition of within KOT to continue being involved with the Jones family, running the Bearathon and when we run the Bearathon, it’s in honor of Daniel Jones and to recognize that and keep telling his story.”
Bethany said KOT had about 25 members signed up to run the Bearathon just to run and for no other reason. Now that they are running for Jones, Bethany said they have at least 45 men signed up to run because how important Jones was to the fraternity.
“Daniel Jones is a KOT and he deserves to have his legacy continued, especially with how much KOT meant to him and his family,” Bethany said.
On Saturday, KOT members running the Bearathon will be matching and those who aren’t will be set up at a water station somewhere along the race, Bethany said.
“We are also sponsoring a water station on the course and I think we already have 40 guys that are officially signed up and we have a ton more that are just going to be there to kind of do their part even though they aren’t going to be running,” Bethany said. “This year we are all going to be wearing not exactly uniforms but matching t-shirts and shorts which are going to have Daniel Jones, like his name and that’s going to hopefully provide more.”
Holmes said he is proud of the hard, physical work members are putting themselves through in remembrance of Jones and that it speaks to the type of person Jones was.
“It’s a lot of self-discipline to run a half-marathon, especially one as tough as the Bearathon,” Holmes said. “I think getting guys who are willing to self-discipline themselves for a while and really just focus on that kind of goal really says something. Everything I’ve heard about him has said that he’s just an incredible student. So if we can give any comfort to his family in that way, if we can give any bit of an example if there are guys in that way then I think it is worth doing.”
The goal on Saturday, Holmes said, is to display that Jones is still remembered by family and friends.
“Then this year, hopefully we’ll show that it isn’t something that has gone forgotten,” Holmes said.