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Published: Monday, 2/13/2006

Foot races to honor Bloomdale attorney

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BLOOMDALE, Ohio - Friends and colleagues of the late Jodie Stearns are putting together a fund-raising event to pay tribute to the attorney and farmer who was struck and killed by a car on Jan. 11 while jogging on Emerson Road just north of Eagleville Road, not far from her rural Wood County home.

The fund-raiser, which is scheduled for July 1 at Elmwood High School, features the Pickle Chase 5K run and the Bell Pepper Fun Run for kids.

Wood County Sheriff's Deputy Mary Ann Robinson said the names of the races reflect Ms. Stearns' sideline of growing pickles.

"We want to honor her memory and pay tribute to the things she felt passionate about," she said. "And we want to make it fun so people will come back year after year."

"She was such a big runner. She ran every day to get the stress off," said friend Mary Kirk, a common pleas court reporter who is helping plan the race. "I would like to see this continue for many, many years."

In her private law practice in Bowling Green, Ms. Stearns, 47, specialized in civil litigation and agricultural law, but she also worked as an assistant city prosecutor in Bowling Green focusing on domestic violence cases.

Ms. Robinson said family members of Ms. Stearns asked that proceeds from the Pickle Chase 5K benefit the Cocoon Shelter in Bowling Green, which assists victims of domestic violence, and the Jodie Stearns/

Tom Waldock Scholarship Fund at Elmwood High School, which Ms. Stearns and her husband created eight years ago.

An Elmwood High School graduate, Ms. Stearns and Mr. Waldock have awarded an $800 scholarship to an Elmwood senior each spring, said Dave Wellman, director of students services at Elmwood.

"They always made the selection. They look for someone in the [vocational agriculture] area - that was one thing they really liked to see," Mr. Wellman said. "I would send the criteria she wanted - GPA, ACT score - and they would decide."

Wood County Prosecutor Ray Fischer said his office has not filed any charges in connection with Ms. Stearns' death but is continuing to investigate the circumstances.

The driver of the car, David W. Harris, 36, of nearby Bairdstown, has been in the Wood County jail on a parole violation since the Jan. 11 accident.

He was recently found to be in violation of his parole and could be returned to prison to complete a 7 to 15-year sentence he received in 1993 for felonious assault.

Ms. Robinson said she believes the 5K run will be an opportunity for healing.

"When something like this happens, people tend to get angry," she said. "This is a way to turn that anger into something positive. I don't think Jodie would want us to go around being angry."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-353-5972.



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