BLACKSBURG – It was the type of evening Casey Jones would have loved.
Hundreds of people of all ages could be seen dancing, exercising and playing throughout Kipps Elementary School as a part of the fourth annual Kipps Fit Family Night in honor of the school’s former teacher who died suddenly in 2012.
“Even to just walk out on that playground and see families playing together would make him so happy,” said Kipps fifth-grade teacher Kelly McPherson.
Jones taught physical education at the school from 1994 until his death. A year later a committee of teachers created the Fit Family Night as a way to remember him by promoting one of his passions, fitness, and as a fundraiser for a scholarship in his honor, McPherson said.
This year’s event included a slew of activities for children and parents, ranging from Taekwondo to Zumba, and all of which were put on by community volunteers. There was also a variety of health information available, including summer camps and fitness programs, a meal provided by Hethwood Market and dozens of raffle and silent auction items.
McPherson wrote in an email Friday that more than 100 families attended the event and almost $2,500 was raised.
Blacksburg High School basketball coach Doug Day, who ran basketball drills Thursday night, said he enjoyed participating in the event each year as a way to give back to the community and honor his late friend.
“Casey was a great role model, great mentor...It’s a great cause,” Day said.
Fifth-grade students Bishre Mahasneh and Eli Sterling said they made sure to show up for each Fit Family Night because they knew their friends would be there, as well as some good food.
“Like if I didn’t eat, I can get a meal here,” Bishre said.
Eli said his enjoyment of the event even outweighed the fact he was spending extra time at his school.
“It’s the only time I’m happy to do it,” Eli said.
Casey Jones’ family also took part in Thursday’s event, which his wife Pat Jones said would have both been enjoyable and humbling for her husband.
“He always said, ‘Everybody can do something,’” Pat Jones said. “He always made sure everyone had something in hand to do or they could do.”
Daughter Keely Jones, who aims to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a Montgomery County teacher after her graduation from Radford University in May, said she was touched people were still coming out to honor her dad four years after his death.
Pat Jones said the ongoing effort was a testimony to Casey Jones’ impact on the community at large, as a teacher, referee and umpire. She said one of her husband’s former students was even one of the first responders when he had his heart attack in 2012.