By Laura McAlister
Friends of Shawntel Dixon Jones describe the mother of three as someone who was always ready to lend a helping hand in spite of her busy schedule, which included her boys’ ball and swim practices and volunteer work with Vestavia Hills city schools.
“She was always the person you called if you wanted anything,” said friend and Vestavia parent Janet Ball. “If you needed a sitter, she’d say, ‘Bring the kids over, no problem.’”
Shawntel, 40, unexpectedly passed away in August 2011. At her funeral service at Covenant Presbyterian Church, a lattice board was set up showing the many community and school-related activities with which Shawntel was involved.
She and husband Walter were very active in youth sports through their three children, Dixon, Nathan and Mims. Shawntel also served on the Parent Teacher Organizations of Pizitz Middle School, Central School and East Elementary, where she was PTO president.
It was in looking back at the lasting impact Shawntel had on her community and family that her friends decided they had to do something to memorialize her.
“I truly prayed about it,” Ball said. “I felt for a long time I wanted to do something in her memory.”
After some praying and research, Ball learned about a group of women at Central who were trying to raise funds for a track. She knew her friend Shawntel would have wanted to help in some way, and now she will be.
Next month, the community will come together to celebrate the life of Shawntel while also raising funds for the new track at Central School, which will be named after Shawntel.
To raise the $50,000 it will cost to build the track, the community is hosting the inaugural Shawntel Dixon Jones 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run Aug. 25 at 8 a.m. starting at Vestavia Hills High School. The fun run will be at the high school track. The 5K route is still being determined.
Ball and Janet Olsen, another of Shawntel’s friends and a Vestavia parent, said they felt that even though the Jones children aren’t enrolled in Central this coming year, Shawntel would have wanted to help in the efforts to build the track. It’s been needed at the school for years, they said.
“She was so involved in hands-on community work,” Olsen said. “This is really just a call to honor that.”
Five laps around the track will equal one mile, and there will be three fields in the middle of it. The track will be open to the community.
So far, the community has been quick to respond to help build the track and honor Shawntel. Some $42,000 has been raised through corporate and family race sponsorships.
For information on sponsorships, email ForShawntel@gmail.com. For information on registration, visit http://www.active.com/running/vestavia-hills-al/shawntel-dixon-jones-5k-and-fun-run-2012