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Community comes out in support of victim

Posted: September 24, 2013 - 6:54pm
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Ashley Solesbee hugs her boyfriend Wesley Spires at the 5K Run/Walk held on his behalf on Saturday Sept. 21 2013 at the Riverview Park Activities Center in North Augusta. MIKE ADAMS/SPECIAL.
Ashley Solesbee hugs her boyfriend Wesley Spires at the 5K Run/Walk held on his behalf on Saturday Sept. 21 2013 at the Riverview Park Activities Center in North Augusta. MIKE ADAMS/SPECIAL.

People from around the area gathered Saturday morning at the North Augusta Greeneway for the Wesley Spires Benefit 5K Run/Walk.

The event raised funds to go toward Spires’ medical fund, said his sister, Harriet Smith.

Spires and companion Ashley Solesbee were attacked at Riverwalk Augusta in early May. Both had to be hospitalized. Solesbee was released a few days later and Spires returned home in June.

The last few months have been hard, but the family’s faith and support from the community have helped, said Smith.

“The overall support from the community has been very important and has been very helpful in his healing too,” she said. “He wanted to get out of the hospital as soon as he could to see everybody and thank them. He has been working really hard to get back to his normal, everyday life.”

Since Spires got out of the hospital, there have been many doctor visits and therapy sessions at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital and at home, she said.

“A lot of healing has taken place but it’s all been for the best,” she said.

The fund helps with the various medical expenses and will help with the cost of Spires’ upcoming surgery, which will be to put a metal plate where skull bone has been removed, she said.

“This will hopefully be his last surgery,” she said.

About 115 people participated in Saturday’s event, some who knew Spires, others who just heard about the tragic incident and wanted to support him.

Patrick Gelinas, a professor at the University of South Carolina Aiken, was among those who participated in the event and was the first to cross the finish line. He also encouraged his students to participate as well.

Gelinas said that he didn’t know Spires, but that Solesbee had been one of his students.

“It’s nice to support local races, especially for good causes,” he said. “Good people – sometimes bad things happen to them. As a community, we can do what we can to show our support.”

To see people willing to help and offer both spiritual and financial support has meant a lot to the family, said Smith.

“We’re very thankful for that because they didn’t have to help but they did,” she said.

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