Almost 150 racers were on hand October 14 for the PRO-Vision Memorial Run, the first occurrence of what organizers plan to be an annual event.
The PRO-Vision Memorial Foundation was established this year in memory and honor of Paul Robert Overton, a longtime Severna Park resident. The race not only honored Overton, but it also raised $10,000 for Orphan Grain Train (OGT), a nonprofit Christian volunteer network that shares personal and material resources with folks of need, both stateside and abroad.
“The energy and the enthusiasm that was present were just contagious,” said Elfie Eberle, founder of the Maryland branch of OGT and current OGT ambassador, about the race. “It was very exciting.”
Overton was an avid athlete and physical fitness buff with a passion for helping others navigate their own wellness. Severe head and neck injuries suffered during a motorcycle training course in the lot of Marley Station Mall in Glen Burnie, just months after he completed his first full marathon, left the 29-year-old Overton in and out of shock trauma centers, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities until he was eventually brought to his Severna Park childhood home by his parents, Steve and Paula Overton, in 2019.
“Gradually, he just kept getting stronger and improving, so it was that whole process of us caring for him at home that made us so aware of how just incredible it can be for a family to bring a person home if they’re able to do it,” Paula Overton said.
Paul Overton passed away on March 29, 2021, with his parents noting that their oldest son maintained a positive and calm peace despite the adversity of his final years.
Paul Overton’s journey played a part in the decision to choose Orphan Grain Train as the beneficiary of the funds raised during the 10K run and 5K run/walk events, plus the additional 89 donations that came in. The Overton family discovered OGT while seeking a place to donate their late son’s medical inventory.
Steve Overton noted that Paul had solid medical insurance, but the family still had to purchase thousands of dollars of medical equipment for their son.
“That’s why we kind of felt so strongly about supporting the Orphan Grain Train because we see what support they can give a family who might have a similar situation,” Paula Overton said. “If you’re in that predicament, you have a loved one who needs something, and it’s out of pocket. It’s astronomical.”
The week after the race, Eberle and other OGT volunteers were loading a container destined for Ghana with medical equipment, bicycles, clothing and school supplies. The organization recently raised $96,000 to ship 11,000 Luci solar lights to Ukraine after Russian targeting of the country’s power systems. Eberle cited a recent example of a nearby resident needing a hospital bed for her father’s recovery, but it would take weeks to deliver — OGT had one in the warehouse for her.
“That warehouse and this ministry is a miracle,” said Eberle about the Millersville-based facility where OGT now ships about 12 containers out a year compared to the two a year just eight years ago. “It amazes me again and again how generous people are.”
The concept of a race in Paul’s honor was something first initiated by his friends.
“Every parent thinks their child is great, but we had no idea what an impact he had on so many people,” said Steve Overton about the outpouring of support from those who knew Paul following the accident.
Paula Overton said the family wanted the race to create something positive out of her son’s tragedy.
The top three finishers in the 10K men’s event were Michael Johnson, Evan Hockel and Brian Rutland while the women’s top three were Sydney McClain, Samantha Knickerbocker and Brittan Logan. The 5K women’s top placers were Lily Williamson, Jill Cornett and Jennifer Goins while the men’s top three were Jeff McGuire, Chris Hunt and Mason Mundell.
Steve and Paula Overton praised the foundation’s board members, who are all Severna Park High School graduates. The board includes Paul Overton’s parents plus his younger siblings, Drew and Kara Overton. Other members are Hockel, Brooks Chalmers, Pat Mercer, Casey LiPira, Ryan Knickerbocker and Shane DeWind.
Her husband acknowledged that the good also comes from the community.
“I can only stress how beloved this community is, how faithful they’ve been to us,” Steve Overton said about Severna Park. “This event proved it again.”