More than 100 run in remembrance of Andrews
People were running for Ronda on Tuesday morning. And walking, chatting and laughing — maybe even grabbing a drink at Sonic.
More than 100 people gathered at Chieftain Park to pay tribute to Ronda Andrews, an avid runner who taught second grade at Genesis Christian Academy.
Andrews died in a two-vehicle accident Friday at 158th Street and U.S. Highway 24-40.
An array of people gathered near the park’s playground for a group prayer and then dispersed at their own pace along the park’s sidewalks. Some even played soccer. GCA middle-school teacher Paula Wombwell posted information Monday on her Facebook page about the event. Faculty members discussed doing something in Andrews’ honor and the impromptu run/walk made the most sense — Andrews also was a member of the Tonganoxie Running Club.
Wombwell told those who gathered to take time to share laughs and even tears as they remembered Andrews. If that meant taking a walk to Sonic for a drink, she was all for that, too.
“It’s a time for fellowship,” Wombwell said. “Getting together. Having fun. That was Ronda. She was energetic.”
A second-grade teacher preparing for her 11th year at GCA, Andrews was a dedicated person, Wombwell said.
“Everything Ronda did, she gave it all she had,” Wombwell said. “Eating worms, teaching, mission trips, running.”
Yes, Andrews downed worms occasionally.
Sharon Beeman, GCA administrator, said Andrews challenged students twice to raise money for mission work in Russia. For every $100 raised, she pledged to eat a nightcrawler. Both times she challenged students, they raised roughly $1,200, and Andrews gulped down 12 worms.
The money went to GCA’s sister school in Russia for a new copier and the other time for a mission trip there.
Students pledged to eat worms once, a prank in which all the students had gummy worms ready to eat. For a mission trip, the GCA contingent had healthy helpings of gummy worms with Russian counterparts.
“She was one of the most giving people. She was by far one of the most gifted teachers I’ve had the privilege to work with,” said Beeman who has worked in public and private education for 30 years.
Andrews was one of two second-grade teachers at the school. Beeman said Kathy Link, GCA’s other second-grade teacher, would take over both classes, which will total about 20 students.
“We felt like that was a better choice,” Beeman said. “Just leave Mrs. Andrews’ classroom closed for the moment. We don’t have to use the room. It can just be for a little bit.”
Beeman said Andrews’ love for Jesus Christ and her family was a passion that always shined. That included her school family, Beeman said. Classes for the kindergarten-through-middle school academy of roughly 115 students begin next Thursday.
“We may not be blood relatives, but we’re a family,” Beeman said. “And we’ve lost a sweet sister.”
An obituary for Andrews can be found on page 5 of today’s edition of The Mirror.
— Shawn Linenberger, news editor at The (Tonganoxie) Mirror, can be reached at 913-845-2222.