By STEVEN NALLEY
In 1997, seven days before Christmas, a car accident changed the Pote family’s life forever.
Jonathan Pote said he was the only member of the family who was not in the car when the accident crushed his wife Linda Pote’s leg, broke both of his son Sam Pote’s arms and one of his legs, caused severe nerve damage in his daughter Jennifer Pote’s hand and killed his other daughter, Hannah Pote, when she was just a sophomore at Starkville High School. In the days after the tragedy, Jonathan said, he saw Starkville at its best.
“The town really rallied behind us,” Jonathan Pote said. “They decorated the house for Christmas, they bought gifts, they brought food, they even brought a refrigerator to put the food in. They arranged for the grave site. They donated a motorized chair for Sam to get around in. They absolutely took care of us.”
Starkville will rally around a different cause in Hannah Pote’s name when the Starkville Sportsplex hosts The Hannah Pote Run for Education at 8 a.m. Oct. 27.
Registration costs $8 for the event’s 5K run and $6 for its one-mile Fun Run, with a $2 surcharge for those who register after Oct. 20. Participants can also give double the default registration cost and receive a T-shirt.
Participants can register by contacting Anastasia Elder at 662-323-2066 or by sending an application and payment to her at 504 Banyan Road. Proceeds benefit the Starkville School District, Linda Pote said, and the event’s top financial supporter is the Starkville Women’s Clinic.
“Portions of the money generated go to the Starkville Foundation (for Public Education’s) teacher’s small grant program, academic needs requested by the school, the cross country (and) soccer teams (and other SSD initiatives),” Linda Pote said. “Plus, it is a great family event. It’s multi-generational, with this run being a first for so many kids.”
Linda Pote said many SSD students who have built successful running careers at the high school level started by running as elementary school students in the Fun Run.
Conversely, she said, some have been running in the event since before it was named for Hannah.
Originally, Linda Pote said, the run was known as the Boardtown Jubilee Run for Education. Jonathan Pote was one of the founding members of SFPE, and he said the run, begun in 1991, was one of the first fundraisers the SFPE established.
“You’ll see families that do a lot of running (in this event),” Jonathan Pote said. “Several times, we’ve had three generations of families that would be in it. This will be the first event (many) kids run in, and they will go all the way up to being very competitive. One of the things runners really like about this area is it’s really flat ... so runners can clock some good times on it.”
One tradition that dates back to 1991, Linda Pote said, is the event’s T-shirt. Art students compete to submit the winning design for the T-shirt each year, she said, and Jonathan Pote’s sister, Deborah Pote-Gheen, combined T-shirts from each of the past years into a single quilt last year.
Linda Pote said the event will also include refreshments, prizes for the winners and an academic bee where students test their knowledge of Mississippi facts. Jonathan Pote said the event’s date has also opened up a special competition not always seen at the Run For Education.
“When it gets close to Halloween, (as it is this year), they have a costume competition,” Jonathan Pote said. “They try to make sure it’s during an away game and when the cross country team does not have an event going on.”