Leanna Geers Info

Leanna Wolf-Geers and a race well run

Leanna Wolf-Geers was race director Maurie Holbrook’s niece and last year a memorial fund for Ava, Eric and Leanna’s daughter was started with some of the proceeds from the 2011 Lakestride, that tradition will continue with the 2012 race proceeds.

From a 2011 Ludington Daily News column

Late last Friday afternoon, I learned that Leanna Wolf-Geers, one of our county’s greatest high school runners, had passed away early that morning. She was 26 years old.

For nearly a year, the game, former star athlete had fought for her life against a formidable foe, nerve cancer. She had hoped to make it to her daughter Ava’s first birthday party. She missed by a day.

A couple hours after hearing of Leanna’s death, I was at the Mason County Central Students Event Center covering a girls basketball game between Central and Lake Leelanau St. Mary. At my table situated between the Spartans’ bench and official scorers’ table, I watched a procession of young women going into the game.

Their fresh, young faces and their eyes were full of excitement. And full of promise. I knew that Leanna was once like them. Maybe not on the basketball court. But on the race track and the cross country trails where she excelled, she once stood waiting, eager to “get into the game.”

In full flight, Leanna, tall and thin, ran with long, dynamic strides. She attacked the track with a gait that said, “I’m out here to win.” And she won many races. In her eyes and in her heart must have been the happiness of her promise being fulfilled.

When a young person dies, we all feel the loss of more of that promise, the loss of what Leanna might yet have become. But also when a young person passes from this life, I feel it reminds us all of how precious life is.

How we so easily take each moment, each day for granted. We cannot take Leanna’s beautiful, brave, hopeful life for granted. She gave a lot while she was here. And the ripples of her life and her death should touch us and teach us all. With each hour of our lives so precious, what place does bitterness, anger, pridefulness, revenge have in our lives? Why can’t we celebrate each other more often?

As I grow older, the ailments of old age have begun to mount. An arthritic this and a painful that. Most of the time when I talk about these things I do so with a sense of humor. But still deep down I feel a sadness of the loss of my body.

I can only imagine what Leanna felt as she fought for her young life. She lost a leg and had surgeries to remove tumors from her legs, brain and lungs. But through it all, buoyed by a loving family and a host of loving friends, she kept precious faith and hope. Near her end, she still wanted to learn how to use a prosthetic leg though she knew the future was short for her.

During her final ordeal, Leanna lived by these words, “Do not cry for my pain, but smile for my strength.” Like a brave runner she was, she ran her race well and to the end. May we always smile when we think of the strength that Leanna found to run such a graceful race.

-Ed Papes,

Staff writer, Ludington Daily News.