TENNERTON – Come Saturday, June 1, family, friends, co-workers, students and classmates will gather at Buckhannon-Upshur High School Track and Upshur County Recreation Park Pool to pay tribute to a woman whose positive effect on others was widespread.
“Laps for Tap,” which begins at 8 a.m., will raise funds for the Catherine “Splash” Williams Scholarship in honor of Tappan Williams Squires; Splash was Tappan’s mother.
The Catherine “Splash” Williams Scholarship will be presented to a B-UHS graduate in the Class of 2020.
Friends, co-workers and classmates organized “Laps for Tap” as a labor of love following her valiant battle with cancer, according to a brochure about the event.
Friends said Tappan left a legacy of passion for Buckhannon-Upshur sports, swimming and service to her community.
As a leadup to the June 1 event, on Friday, May 10, friend and classmate Rick Muhr spoke with students at B-UHS about the event, and on Saturday, May 11, Muhr joined with fellow classmates to “test the track” at B-UHS.
Muhr has spent 41 years as a marathon runner and 23 years as a professional running coach for the Boston Marathon. He will be running in the June 1 “Laps for Tap.” If Muhr looks slightly familiar, that could be because he carried the torch in the 2004 Olympic torch relay. Or because he served as the keynote speaker at B-UHS graduation just last year in 2018.
Muhr said Tappan invited him to a Sadie Hawkins Dance and was her escort on the Homecoming Queen’s Court when they were seniors.
“We started school in grammar school together,” Muhr said. “I played basketball, and Tappan was a cheerleader. She was the same in high school and later life as she was in grade school. She was very structured, disciplined and had very high standards for herself. She expected others to have high standards as well.”
Muhr said following graduation, he entered the military.
“Because of Tappan, I was well-prepared for boot camp,” he said. “As a coach and teacher of the year, she wanted people to challenge themselves. She knew people were far more capable of things than they thought they were. She was a fun-loving, passionate person.
“Sometimes when you grow up in a small town, you expect everyone who is great to live somewhere else,” Muhr said. “You don’t expect them to be your neighbor and your friend. The end of her life was exactly as she was when she was young – she was giving, caring, organized. She never changed. I think the only thing that changed was [that] her resolve was strengthened to not only be like that, but to help others be that way.”
Muhr said Tappan’s classmates hope to honor her life and memory, noting it was very easy for her friends from her graduating class to come together and organize the event.
“We want to add to the scholarship fund,” said classmate and organizer Kelly Queen. “We probably won’t do this again after this event. We want to get the community together one more time to celebrate Tappan’s life and add to this scholarship fund.”
“We are all grieving, and we are all adults, but there are a lot of young people that are grieving, too,” Muhr said. “Part of this is bringing everyone together and having closure and celebration. Tappan was one of the most amazing people I have ever known in my life and it has been an honor to be her friend.”
When friends and classmates gathered to “test” the track May 11, their message was simple – they wanted folks to come out and support the “Laps for Tap” and help build the scholarship named for Tappan’s mother.
On the day of the actual event, June 1, registration begins at 8 a.m. and the Laps for Tap run/walk will begin at 9 a.m. and last until 5 p.m. Meanwhile, the Laps for Tap swim will begin at 9 a.m. and run through 11 a.m.
Concessions will be sold throughout the day and will include soft drinks, water, chips and candy bars along with Sam’s pizza and pepperoni rolls and lemonade from Zul’s.
Also, there will be a 50/50 drawing with the winner being selected at 4 p.m. The winner must be present to win. There will be a blue and wife afghan raffle with tickets being sold during the event. The afghan was made by Tappan’s classmate, Linda Talkington Cantley.
Tappan grew up in Buckhannon, graduating from B-UHS in 1976. She attended WVU’s School of Physical Education, graduated in 1980 and completed a master’s degree in special education in 1989 and school health education in 1998.
She began teaching in Upshur County in 1985 in special education and later taught physical education. She was a coach for women’s basketball and swimming as well as volunteering at youth levels for swimming and soccer.
Anyone wishing to help that cannot make the “Laps for Tap” event can make donations at B-UHS or can contact Kelly Queen at 304-439-8068 or Jack Reger at 304-997-9883. Checks should be made payable to B-UHS Athletics with a notation of The Splash Williams Scholarship Fund.
The Splash Williams Scholarship Fund will be available for the 2020 B-UHS graduating class. Primary consideration will be given to a student who swam for the Splashers Swim Team for at least one year and/or swam for at B-UHS for at least one year.
Other qualities include academic excellence, community service, involvement in school activities and recommendations from teachers, employers and coaches. Students applying for the scholarship must be pursuing formal education after high school.