Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Event to honor Tuttle Creek State Park ranger
WAMEGO — On June 26, 2010, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) ranger Luke Nihart died of injuries he received while patrolling Tuttle Creek State Park in the early morning hours of the park’s annual Country Stampede Music Festival. The 32-year-old Nihart, an 11-year KDWP veteran, lost control of his ATV while entering a parking lot. It was a great loss for Nihart’s family and for KDWP. In 2005, Nihart had received a commendation for valor shown in a water rescue on Tuttle Creek in which he and another ranger exposed themselves to dangerous conditions to rescue boaters caught in a severe thunderstorm on the lake.

To honor Nihart, the Wamego MOMs Running For Others will conduct a Luke Nihart Memorial Run on Saturday, April 16. The event is being held in association with Wamego’s 24th Annual Tulip Festival. The race will include a 5k run-walk and a 10k run beginning at 8 a.m. at the Wamego Recreation Complex, on the southwest corner of Highway 24 and Balderson Boulevard in Wamego. Online reservations are available at Race packets and registrations will be available on Friday, April 15, from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. at the Wamego Chamber Of Commerce, 529 Lincoln Avenue in Wamego. Same-day registration will be available on Saturday, April 16, from 7 a.m.-7:30 a.m. Strollers are welcome in the 5K race.
For the kids, there will be a “bounce house” and gymnastics obstacle course available for $5 per child, unlimited play time. These are open activities, not competition, and all money will go to the Nihart Children’s Education Fund.

“Running has often been described by those mourning losses as an avenue to find peace throughout the grieving process,” explains Jessica Kueker, event organizer and founder of the MOMS group. “As someone who runs, I can see how this could be true. I have seen how other runs have benefitted great causes, and there appears to be a huge running community in our area, so it made sense to have a run be our fundraiser for the Nihart family.”

Nihart graduated from Wamego High School in 1995, then attended Cloud County Community College for two years prior to graduating from Kansas State University in 2000 with a B.S. in agriculture. He also graduated from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in December of 2000. After graduation, he worked for a short time as a park ranger at El Dorado State Park before accepting the position at Tuttle Creek. An avid outdoorsman, Nihart was especially interested in getting youth involved in the shooting sports and other outdoor activities.

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