Courtesy of www.yourcentralvalley.com
Exactly one week after the hit-and-run accident that took his life, a former student of his organized an early morning run to pay tribute for Fort Washington Elementary's late vice principal Gavin Gladding.
Andrew Azarte, who had Gladding as a science teacher in middle school, is actively involved in the area's running community. Just as a runner, the accident was shocking enough, but because it was Gladding it hurt even more.
"We run those streets every single weekend, probably more like two or three times a week. It could have been any one of us," Azarte said.
Gladding was hit around 6 a.m. on Sept. 16 around Friant Road and Old Friant Road while running on the shoulder of the road. He was hit by a pickup truck that swerved onto the shoulder, according to CHP.
Rogelio Alvarez, 18, has since been arrested in Gladding's death Friday -- facing charges of felony manslaughter, driving without a license and leaving the scene of an accident. He's already bailed out of jail.
A family friend said Gladding was training for a marathon. So, to honor him, Azarte put out a call to the running community to run to the memorial created at Fort Washington Elementary. Once there, the 40-to-50 runners also added to the memorial by tying pairs of shoes on the fence.
Azarte said he was surprised by the turnout, saying, "It showed how many lives he touched. For example, there was people there from the Peace Corps this morning that knew him...I didn't expect anybody like that to show up."
The main goal of the run was to show the running community supports Gladding's family. This past week, there's been countless acts saying that same message.
Daylan Robinson, another former student of Gladding's, plans to show his support, too, by attending his former high school science teacher's funeral.
"He had our back, it's good to know we have his and his family as well," Robinson said. "Even though they're going through it, I personally would like to show my support for them and be there for them as well."
The memorial was taken down Sunday evening at the request of the family. It will be moved to where Gladding will be buried, according to Fort Washington Elementary staff.
The funeral service will be held at the People's Church in Fresno. It's set for 10 a.m. Monday.