LH native Meridith Wentz honoring late father in fight against ALS

PHOTO PROVIDED Dad (Jan Wentz) going for a bike ride on the Red Cedar Trail in Menomonie, Wis.

From staff reports

LOCK HAVEN – Meridith Wentz has been putting on her running shoes.

She’s been practicing for a great cause.

On Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, she will be running as part of Team ALS TDI (ALS Therapy Development Institute) in the TCS New York City Marathon.

Meridith plans to run 26.2 miles for ALS TDI an Official Charity Partner.

She will be part of a team that features runners from all over the globe with one universal mission, finding a cure for ALS.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive nervous system disease that destroys nerve cells which eventually break down and die.

ALS affects control of the muscles needed to move, speak, eat, or breathe.

There is no cure and the disease is fatal.

For Meridith and her family this is not just any old race.

She’ll be running in memory of her dad, Jan Teah Wentz, who passed away from this terrible disease at the age of 66 … less than six months after his initial diagnosis.

As part of the Lock Haven community, locals may recognize the names Teah and Wentz.

Jan and his wife, the former Karen Wilt, grew up along the banks of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Lock Haven.

Jan’s parents were Jeanetta Teah and Edward E. Wentz.

Jan’s grandfather was Dr. Theodore Emil Teah, a prominent local physician and surgeon who opened his own private hospital on First and Main Streets in Lock Haven in 1912.

Dr. Teah was also heavily involved in the Lock Haven Kiwanis Club where he had a perfect attendance record for 27 years.

He strongly believed in giving back to his local community.

Growing up in Lock Haven, Jan had a troupe of friends known as the “Water Street Gang.”

Besides Jan the group included Mark Dwyer, Jim Gillock, Dave Eisemann, Bill Passell, Tom Banfill, and Wayne Smith.

In a letter to Karen, Jan’s wife, Jim Gillock wrote, “The gang regularly found time on the weekends and summer days to ‘hoot and holler’ on Dwyer’s front porch as friends drove by in their cars.”

Many hot summer days were spent swimming in the pool at the Wentz’s home on top of the hill overlooking the Susquehanna River.

Jim Gillock said, “Jan was always so easy-going and fun to be around. He loved football. In spite of disappointments over playing time, Jan never quit the football team. His tenacity and ‘never quit’ mentality I am sure served him well in life.”

Jim was right, Meridith says.

In spite of the devastating effects of this disease, Jan still kept his positive attitude. He was always making jokes about his adult children’s efforts to create adaptive devices and send gifts to help him as the disease progressed, she remembers.

They visited often to be there for him.

Meridith, Matthew, and Christian, Jan’s children, would say that their dad was an extremely supportive father who encouraged them to follow their dreams and be even better than the best they thought they could be.

He was always there to offer guidance and make what seemed impossible, possible, Meridith said.

In that spirit, the Wentz family is supporting Meridith’s New York City run.

There is no cure for ALS.

More funding is needed to advance effective treatments for this disease.

Donations help fuel the efforts of the ALS Therapy Development Institute to advance promising drugs and help end ALS.

This will be Meridith’s first marathon and an opportunity to fulfill a dream of her own.

She said she’s doing it for a great cause and a very much misses her unforgettable dad.

The Wentz family is grateful for any donations made to help fight ALS and for sharing this message with others, Meredith said.

Donations of any amount are much appreciated and can be made online at this web site: https://fundraise.als.net/team/meridithwentz.

Or, Meridith said checks can be mailed to: ALS Therapy Development Institute, 300 Technology Square, Suite 400, Cambridge, MA 02139. Please include that this donation is for the Jan Wentz Fund Questions? Contact Erin Stevens, estevens@als.net, or call 617-441-7238.