STILLWATER — Tracy Shirley never would have missed a Remember the Ten Run at Oklahoma State.
Helping the school honor the memory of the 10 people who died in the basketball team's plane crash in 2001 held a special place in Shirley's heart.
He was the first director for the 10K and 5A races, working in that role for the first five years of the event.
Last year, he actually got to run in the race for the first time. A month later, Shirley died in a small-plane crash.
Shirley's impact won't be forgotten at the annual Remember the Ten Run. Founder Kerry Alexander set up an award named for Shirley to be given to the event's most outstanding volunteer.
The Omega Phi Alpha sorority was given the inaugural award on Saturday after the seventh-annual Remember the Ten Run completed.
“Tracy was someone who cared selflessly for others,” Alexander said. “He put forth so much effort to make this run a success. For him to die under somewhat similar circumstances to the 10, and for us to be able to keep his memory alive through the volunteer award, we think it's very special.”
Running was Shirley's passion. He ran more than 30 marathons, including the Boston Marathon two years ago, and he loved watching the Remember the Ten Run grow.
Several of his family members were on hand Saturday, wearing green shirts that had Shirley's image on the back. The image was taken from a photo of him at the Boston Marathon, and Shirley's favorite inspirational saying was on the front of the shirts, a takeoff of a line from Yoda of the Star Wars movies — “There is no try, only do or do not.”
One of Shirley's sisters, Natalie, is the president of OSU-Oklahoma City. Another sister flew in from New Jersey for Saturday's event, and several other family members were on hand, along with his mother and widow, Shari.
“He saw this as a way to give back to the school and to the people who lost loved ones,” Shari Shirley said. “He would have been here running today.”
Tracy Shirley died May 31 when the small plane he was piloting crashed during a severe thunderstorm in eastern Mississippi. He was on his way to Florida for work. He served as the vice president and chief financial officer for Harrison Gypsum Co. of Norman.
Now, like the 10 people who were lost in that Colorado crash 12 years ago, Tracy Shirley's presence will be remembered each year at the Remember the Ten Run.
“This race meant the world to him,” said Shirley's son, Parker. “To have this race that he helped facilitate and volunteer at, for them to honor them this way, it means the world to us. And not only that, it would mean the world to him.”