Runners brave cold for ninth annual John Wilt Foundation Run

Race winners: Jacqueline Sommer, Crystal Gedris, Chris Jurgensmeyer, James Roddy, Ryan Gill, Natalie Gill (Photo by Tina Anshus)

By Martha Stoffel

O’FALLON – Cooler temperatures on Saturday did not stop the ninth annual John Wilt Foundation Honor Run from taking place in O’Fallon.

The run began as a way for friends, family and the community to remember John and to raise funds in support of the USO, Fisher House and a $1,500 yearly renewable scholarship for an OTHS graduating senior. 

Wilt, a 1996 OTHS graduate, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps after graduating from the United States Naval Academy. He died May 8, 2002 in an aircraft accident while undergoing flight officer training at NAS Pensacola, Florida. 

Wilt foundation board members: Ann Wilt, Beth Ortega, Jeff Baskett, Tina Anshus,
Nels Wilt, not pictured TJ Payne. (Photo by Tina Anshus)

The 5K begins and ends at the O’Fallon Veterans’ Monument. The JROTC from OTHS posted the colors, with the national anthem being performed by Sarah Lancaster. A moment of silence with the Marine unit flag to honor John was run the entire race route by retired Marine Jeff Ortega. The Egg and I restaurant met runners at the finish line with pancakes. 

The overall men’s winner was Marine Chris Jurgensmeyer, with a time of 20:05. Jacqueline Sommer was the overall women’s winner with a time of 21:06. The race had multiple generations of families participating, father/daughter runners Ryan and Natalie Gill each placed third overall for the men and women. Former classmates of John’s and friends of the family that live out of town shared photos to the foundation’s Facebook page of their completed runs. 

For more information regarding the John Wilt Foundation, the scholarship and next year’s race, please visit