The third annual Sprint for Super Gabe will take place at 6 p.m. April 7. The event is being put on by the Army ROTC to raise funds for epidermolysis bullosa research in honor of Gabe Valentine.
Gabe passed away in 2017, and his final wish was to find a cure for this disease.
The 5K will start and finish in the Junction. Currently, there are about 100 participants in the race with an estimated 50 volunteers helping on race day. The race is organized by Meghin Smith, Zehavi Suggs and Tony Blackmon.
“We are able to host this event through the Montgomery Leadership Program as our capstone project,” said Smith.
The Montgomery Leadership Program is an organization on campus which specializes in making a difference, whether it be nationwide or helping out locally.
Two ROTC students and previous Montgomery Leadership Program members, Beler Watts and Brendan Jones, were close with Gabe Valentine and spent time with him at football games and other ROTC events. Utilizing their roles in the Montgomery Leadership Program, they decided to dedicate their capstone to Gabe by creating this event.
The capstone course is currently being taught by Meaghan Gordon, instructor of public relations in organizations. Gordon helped a group of seniors organize another event in Gabe’s honor, called Super Gabe’s Super Friends, that benefits disabled children in the Starkville area.
The Sprint for Super Gabe 5K benefits the Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Partnership. More commonly known as EB, the disease occurs when individuals lack major proteins that bind two layers of skin together. Without these proteins, EB tears and blisters the skin, leading to intense pain. EB currently does not have a cure.
Gabe’s father, Michael Valentine, is a psychology instructor at MSU and an activist for EB research.
“Gabe was a huge fan of Mississippi State and all that had to do with athletics, especially,” Valentine said. “He was a very bright child and was in the gifted program in elementary school.”
Even after missing half of the second grade and most of the third grade for medical treatments, Gabe still scored above average at school.
Along with having a knack for academics, Gabe was extremely involved with the Starkville community at a young age. He served as an honorary police officer for the Starkville Police Department and member of the Bulldog Battalion, where he enjoyed firing the cannon with the battery. The Bulldog Battalion even named their lounge center in Middleton Hall after Gabe.
All of the money raised for the Sprint for Super Gabe 5K goes directly to the EB Research Partnership. Registration for the race has ended, but donations for Super Gabe 2019 are welcomed.