Second annual root beer run carries legacy, benefits students

One year later, John Butler’s bubbly vision is rumbling on.

The second annual Root Beer Mile fun run is set for May 19 in Midland, hosted by the Midland Athletic Company and benefitting the John Thomas Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Butler helped organize the first Root Beer Mile in Midland last year, bringing dozens of friends together for carbonated laughs on the track last spring, and now, the event is set to continue on in his honor. Butler died at age 16 last August.

This spring, in his name, eight area students were granted scholarships through the fund, and the May 19 event is set to raise money to help make the scholarship a continuing, annual award.

“We’re very glad,” said Butler’s mother, Keitha Butler, ahead of the event. “We’re just really honored and humbled by the generosity of everybody that is supporting this.

“It’s the second annual, and he was part of the first, so, yeah, it’s really cool,” she agreed.

Photos from the first event show John Butler and dozens of friends in the sun at Memorial Stadium, standing on a cooler as a makeshift award stand and holding a dry erase board declaring the event the “first annual” Root Beer Mile.

Keitha Butler said her son, then a track and cross country runner at Midland High, came up with the idea for the event with his friend Cade Michael, putting a teenage twist on the common ‘beer mile’ race. During the race, participants have to drink a full root beer before each of the four laps of the race — and then try to keep it all down.

“They had about 50 people come out and run last year,” Keitha Butler said. “After John died, Cade said that he would like that continue, but in John’s honor and to help with scholarship funds. That’s how that’s come about. We’re just going to continue that as something fun.

“All the money we raise goes toward his scholarship fund.”

Those interested in participating can enter at the Midland Athletic Company’s website, at, or learn more about the self-titled John Thomas Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund page on Facebook.

Root beer and water for this year’s event is being provided by Santa Elena Minerals, LP. Chick-fil-A will be offering a chicken sandwich to all registered runners.

“It’ll be annual from now on,” Keitha Butler said. “We hope that it just continues to build.”

If You Go
  • What: Root Beer Mile Fun Run, benefitting the John Thomas Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund
  • When: 10 a.m. May 19
  • Where: Memorial Stadium, Midland
  • Register: Midland Athletic Company.
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