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Celebrating 10 years of impact

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“In my mind is, everyday, to get something done, because I don’t know where that finish line is but I’m moving towards it, slowly but surely.” – Jim Tracy 

The ALS Network (formerly the ALS Association Golden West Chapter) proudly celebrates a decade of progress at the 10th annual Jim Tracy 5K, Walk & Roll to Cure ALS® en Sunday, April 28, at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Participants are invited to join other members of the ALS community for a family-friendly morning of celebration, exercise, education, awareness, music, food, and kids’ fun.

It all started when Jim Tracy, beloved Track and Field Coach at San Francisco University High School (UHS), was diagnosed with ALS in 2010.  

Throughout his career, Jim impacted the lives of countless young athletes. During his 40 seasons at UHS, his unwavering dedication to his students’ success helped the UHS program to win 13 state cross-country titles and four straight California Division V cross-country titles from 2009–2012. 

Coach Tracy’s “never give up” spirit inspired so many, including Holland Reynolds’ famous crawl that made national headlines and was attributed to the Superbowl XLVI championship. In recognition of his accomplishments, Jim was inducted into the San Francisco Prep Hall of Fame in 2013, and was the subject of an award-winning documentary, Running for Jim.  

Jim applied that same disciplined mentality to his fight against ALS before tragically losing his battle to the disease in 2014. It was his dedication to instilling into his students the value of trying your best, no matter what, that continues year after year to inspire new classes of high school athletes to devote their efforts to end ALS in his memory.  

After Jim’s death, Wyeth Coulter, then captain of the University High School Cross-country team, along with Julia Lu, were among the students who were directly shaped by Jim Tracy’s teachings and wished to establish an ongoing tribute in his honor. 

“While processing the loss of our coach who taught me so many life lessons, we felt an intense need to create something to celebrate Jim, one of the most decorated high school running coaches of all time,” said Wyeth Coulter. “In 2015, Julia, my teammates, and I put on the first annual Jim Tracy 5k, raising just over $13,000.”

Since its inception, the student-led, community event has only continued to grow with each volunteer committee year after year. “Since this initial mission to honor Jim’s memory, this race has grown into so much more for the ALS community as a whole,” added Wyeth. “Seeing the new leadership and success of younger UHS students, as the race gets passed down year after year, in many ways, has been the most rewarding part of this experience.” 

In ten years, this volunteer committee composed wholly of San Francisco’s University High School students has led the event to raise an accumulated total of over $550,000. With support from the ALS Network’s staff, these student-athletes dedicate their free time to organizing, promoting, and fundraising for the event in honor of Coach Jim Tracy’s legacy on the school’s athletic program. 

The committee is composed of four subcommittees, with respective emphases on Outreach, Marketing and Communications, Sponsorships, and Fundraising. From securing celebrity runners like Shannon Rowbury, or community sponsorships like Duncan Kennedy’s Feel the Wheel Performance and local sporting goods outlets alike, to hosting bake sales, these students know no bounds in their endeavors to make personal bests in the fight to end ALS. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020-2021, the committee got creative and transformed the event into a virtual celebration, encouraging participants to socially distance while safely running on their own. It was during this period that, for the first time ever, in partnership with the Committee’s event Kick-Off, the ALS Network hosted its premiere showing of Running for Jim in the spring of 2021.

As do many of the students who get involved with the event, Wyeth has continued to support the run, returning to inspire new generations of runners and pay homage to the man behind it all. Here he speaks at the startline of the 5th annual Jim Tracy 5k: 

The ALS Network is grateful for the collaboration of all the San Francisco University High School students and the student-led committee members who have continued their dedication in memory of their beloved coach for the last decade. 

The volunteer committee is calling on the public to join them in the fight to end ALS. For those interested in attending the 5K run, walk & roll, or otherwise getting involved out of support, please visit JimTracy5k.org.  


~ In special thanks to the many Event Chairs for the Jim Tracy 5k ~ 

Wyeth Coulter and Julia Lu – 2015 Event Co-Founders & 2016 Co-Chairs

“We are so proud that this event continues today. He was such an amazing coach, leader, and mentor. We remember seeing him go through everything, and the biggest thing we took away from it was that he didn’t go through it alone. He had the whole team and everyone there to support him. So that’s why we’re really here today – to create this community. So that we can fight this disease together, and not alone. So when you are out there, run to fight ALS, run with a community, and have fun.”

Ana Telfer –  2017 Event Chair

“From the very first day of practice, I could tell that Jim’s dedication to ensuring the success of our cross country team was sincere and came from the bottom of his heart. Coaching was more than just a job for Jim; it was a passion. He believed in training, not talent, and every person on his team worked daily to surpass their potential because they bought into his philosophy.”

“Every runner on the team was saddened by the tragedy of his condition, but I think that we were also inspired and intrigued by his no-nonsense attitude and his apparent lack of self-pity.”

Claire Jackson –  2018 Event Chair

“There are many causes to be paying attention and donating to, but this one is very near and dear to my heart. This event means a lot to myself and the track and cross country teams, as Jim’s coaching legacy has helped the running program we all love and thrive in.”

Ella Shenkar & Elliott Weil – 2019 Event Co-Chairs

“On the first day of Cross Country practice our freshman year, Wyeth Coulter, one of the co-founders of the race, told us the story behind Jim Tracy; his commitment to running, the video of Holland Reynolds’ crawl to the finish line, and Jim’s tragic death the year before. Throughout our four years running at University High School, we would watch the video of Holland’s crawl across the finish line, inspired by her passion and dedication to Jim.”

Today, we can proudly say that every student, teacher, and faculty member at University High School, as well as schools and people around the Bay Area, knows who Jim Tracy was. We continue to pour our hearts into this race each year and teach the next generation to do the same, driven by the idea that our work, in some way, has extended Jim Tracy’s life. After his death, Jim Tracy continues to inspire young athletes, and through the money that the race generates for the ALS Network (formerly the ALS Association Golden West Chapter, he is truly making the world a better place.”

Sadie Scott – 2020 Event Chair 

“Although we have encountered challenges in realizing this year’s event, with Jim’s spirit inspiring us, we have only grown stronger in our resolve to serve this community that needs our help right now. Individuals living with ALS are particularly at-risk for being affected by this devastating virus; and it is our responsibility to do what we can to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities as best we can.”

“I remember baking banana bread in my freshman year to raise money for this event. If someone had told me that I would go on to set a $100,000 fundraising goal and chair the event in my senior year, I would have thought they were crazy. The growth that this event has seen is a tribute to what a community can achieve when they come together and rally behind a cause. Jim Tracy was an inspiration to so many, and always taught his students to never give up, no matter the challenge. The legacy he has left behind is one of hope and resilience, and we too will never give up in our goal to create a world without ALS.”

Leila Sulentic – 2021 Event Chair

“In 2015, my Aunt Sue was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, a fatal disease caused by the same gene as ALS, affecting the brain and memory rather than the body. My family took another hit from ALS when my Uncle Steve was diagnosed in early 2017. 

“While ALS has taken much from my family and others like mine, events like the Jim Tracy 5k have given us so much to be hopeful for. The community we have found has brought us comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our battles with ALS, the strength to push through these struggles, and hope for a world without ALS.”

Eugenia “Jane” Shvartsman – 2022 Event Chair

“My work with the Jim Tracy 5k to Defeat ALS has left a permanent impact on how I see the world. Specifically, I have begun to understand what it truly means to make a difference and seek to inspire others. I never thought that I would be able to make a true difference in the world of ALS, but the people in the ALS community have shown me what we are all capable of if we just put our minds to it.”

“ALS is a very expensive disease, and with the way our healthcare system is structured, this often leads to many people suffering financially when caring for someone with ALS. In addition, ALS research is very underfunded and often overlooked. These are just two of many reasons why we really need to work toward creating more funding for ALS research so that better resources and treatments can be developed to help the ALS community.”

Poppy Chrisman and Erin Wadsworth – 2022 Event Co-Chairs

“For us, being part of the Jim Tracy 5K committee over the past few years has been such a unique and powerful experience. Watching the smiles of everyone as they rally around friends and family brings us both so much joy, and gives us hope the ALS community will keep fighting together until we can find a cure.”

“My babysitter when I was younger was one of Jim’s runners. Hearing how she spoke of him and his impact on her as a runner and person inspired me to join the Jim Tracy 5K to Defeat ALS committee in high school, and it has been an amazing experience. I started on the outreach committee, and have been able to meet and interact with so many brave, strong, and joyful people.” – Erin Wadsworth

“I first heard about the Jim Tracy 5K during my freshman cross country season at University High School. After learning more about the event and Jim Tracy’s incredible legacy at UHS, I decided to join the committee as a sophomore, becoming part of the fundraising subcommittee. Since then, I’ve worked as the fundraising subcommittee chair, before becoming an event co-chair this year.” -Poppy Chrisman

Alison Conner and Naomi Johnson – 2023 Event Co-Chairs

“Originally, I joined the JT5K Committee because a senior I looked up to told me to, but in being part of putting on this entire event and fundraising to support those facing ALS, I have found a part of my community that I admire and am proud to be a part of. This committee has helped me hone organizational and administrative skills for a good cause and has led me towards leadership in and out of my position as a committee sub-chair.” – Naomi Johnson

“As a runner, I wanted to honor Jim Tracy as he helped to create our incredible UHS track/cross country community. I also have a family member with ALS which inspired me to join this committee.” – Alison Conner


You can find out more about the event at JimTracy5k.org. All proceeds from the event will provide critical funding for the ALS Networks’s urgent, interdependent mission priorities in ALS care services, public policy initiatives, and cutting-edge global research.

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