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Runners pay tribute to Clovis school administrator, saying he was ‘everybody’s friend’

Messages, flowers and running shoes hang on a fence at Fort Washington Elementary School where Gavin Gladding was an administrator. The father of two was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Friant Road on Sept. 16.
Messages, flowers and running shoes hang on a fence at Fort Washington Elementary School where Gavin Gladding was an administrator. The father of two was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Friant Road on Sept. 16. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Exactly one week after a popular elementary school administrator died in a hit-and-run accident on Friant Road on the outskirts of northeast Fresno, the running community paid tribute to Gavin Gladding by jogging 2.25 miles and observing a moment of silence at 5:57 a.m. Sunday outside Fort Washington Elementary School.

“He was everybody’s friend,” said Andrew Arzate, who organized the Gladding Memorial Run.

“Mr. Gladding was a teacher that was loved by many and made a tremendous impact on the students he taught, including myself,” said Arzate, who studied science under Gladding in the seventh and eighth grades.

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A woman stretches her leg at the corner of Friant Road and Auduban during a pre-dawn run in tribute to Fort Washington Elementary School administrator Gavin Gladding, who was killed a week ago today by a hit-and-run driver while training for a marathon. JUAN ESPARZA LOERA jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Gladding was struck by a pickup truck in the predawn hours of Sept. 16 near Friant Road and Old Friant Road. A trio of runners saw the accident and ran to provide assistance.

Gladding, who was training for a marathon, leaves behind a wife and two daughters. A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, at Peoples Church, 7172 N. Cedar Ave.

An 18-year-old man, Rogelio Álvarez, was arrested Friday when he turned himself in. He was allegedly driving without a license. He posted bond and has been released. Officials are still investigating the accident.

Arzate, speaking to about 40 runners who assembled outside Fort Washington Elementary School were Gladding was vice principal, said the moment was to focus on the educator and what he meant to the community.

Some parents spoke about how their children rarely make a connection to an educator, but that Gladding was the exception.

Arzate said he uses Gladding’s name as one of his passwords.

Some runners hung pairs of running shoes on a makeshift memorial on a chain-link fence outside the school, directly across from Clovis West High School on Millbrook.

A GoFundMe account has been established to help Gladding’s wife, Susan, and two children, Carter, 10, and Isla, 8.

Last Friday, WBC super welterweight champion José Ramírez raised $6,500 for the Gladdings family by auctioning off a glove that he used in his successful title defense bout Sept. 14 at the Save Mart Center. A limousine company owner threw in another $1,000.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected from an earlier verision that should have reported Gavin Gladding had two children, a boy and a girl.

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