On hot days working at their fireworks stand, Casey Verner Winckler and her husband, Brian, both former coaches at Humansville, could always look to Jacob Weaks Brown for a quick smile and a sense of relief from the heat.
“He was always one of the hardest workers,” she said of the former Humansville athlete. “He never complained about being hot. He never complained about being tired. He was always smiling and laughing and trying to make it more enjoyable for everybody else.”
A three-time all-state runner, Weaks Brown graduated from Humansville High School in 2014 and attended Coffeyville Community College in Kansas on a running scholarship.
Back home in Polk County in June 2016, Weaks Brown was killed in a motorcycle wreck at age 20, according to previous BH-FP coverage.
The loss hit Humansville hard, Winckler said. In its aftermath, those close to Weaks Brown looked to package some of his favorite things into an event that could also raise money to help others.
In summer 2016, Winckler helped organize the inaugural Jacob Brown Memorial 5K — an annual race starting and finishing at Humansville High School and featuring fireworks at the end of the event.
“Jacob helped us sell fireworks every year,” she said. “It was something he always enjoyed.”
The run benefits the Jacob Weaks Brown Memorial Scholarship, which is available to Humansville seniors who ran cross country or track, plan to continue their education after high school and also display Jacob’s impeccable work ethic, Winckler said. Three students have received the scholarship since 2016, including Weaks Brown’s younger brother, James.
“The hardest thing we’ve ever had to do is lose a student, especially in a town like Humansville where everyone knows each other,” she said. “Everyone is related, so anytime that happens there’s a really big impact. So we try to turn it into something positive to make it easier for everybody, and that way his legacy can continue as far as what he enjoyed.”
The Wincklers’ Tigers took fourth place in the 2010 Class 1 state cross country meet, with Weaks Brown the team’s third-fastest finisher at 34th. Weaks Brown was 30th at state in 2011. In 2013, he ran a school-record 4:39.47 to take eighth in the 1,600-meter run at the Class 1 state track meet. He was 29th at the state cross country meet that year.
Winckler said she and her husband coached at Humansville until moving to Grain Valley in 2013 — Weaks Brown’s junior year. The couple kept in touch with him after moving and graduation, she said, closely following his senior campaign and commitment to Coffeyville, she said.
“Even when he was a freshman, he worked 10 times harder than anyone else,” she said. “He was always pushing the upperclassmen in all the races. He was always at 110 percent.”
Registration is now open for the event, which starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at Humansville High School. Cost is $25 on site.
Participants will receive a race shirt, two drawing tickets and post-race food. Visit signupgenius.com/go/409044ba5a82fa1f94-jacob1 to register.
Gift cards will be given to overall winners of each gender and prizes and gift certificates are among a plethora of potential takeaways for runners.
Medals will be given to the top 3 in each age group: 0-12, 13-15, 16-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49 and 50-plus.
Additional shirts may be purchased for $15 each.
A fireworks show is scheduled after the awards.