BY MACIE CARMEL
Dan Van Auken, an English and Math teacher at CIS in Wadsworth, passed away on July 6th 2014. Van Auken always had a passion for exercise, sports and teaching. He taught language arts and math to fifth graders.
While he was healthy, he ran various marathons and kept the racing bibs as a reminder of his good health and love of exercise.
Van Auken was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, which is an aggressive brain cancer. He passed shortly after reaching his goal of finishing the school year in 2014.
His family and friends wanted a memorial to keep his legacy of positivity and his passion for running and exercise. The Wadsworth community has built a track in the vacant lot behind CIS as a constant reminder of Van Auken and his positive impact on the community and school.
“He made 5th really fun and he taught me that is doesn’t matter what you look like, people will like you for who you are,” says Holly Bebout, 12.
The track was built with the help of family, friends and volunteers from the local Lowe’s store, and generous donors throughout the community. The track is accompanied by benches, exercise stations and a sign with Van Auken’s picture featured on it.
At the unveiling of the track, one of his former students led the crowd the exercise station, carrying the same University of Michigan flag that Van Auken had used to taunt rival Ohio State fans that filled the school.
“He was someone that I saw everyday, and he helped me in school. It was sad hearing that he was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed so quickly,” Olivia Vaughan, 12, said.
Van Auken was such a well liked figure in Wadsworth that over $30,000 was raised by the organizers of Van Auken field. This alone shows the amount of respect held for Van Auken.