Local businessman to serve as grand marshal Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 20, 2013 

Mike Haskey/mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.comJohn Teeples founded Run for the Heroes in 2009. The run from Fort Benning to Tybee Island is a fundraiser for the Columbus-based charity House of Heroes, which provides repairs and improvements to the homes of veterans and their spouses at no cost.

MIKE HASKEY

Local businessman John Teeples will serve as grand marshal of the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee Saturday night.

Teeples said it is one way that IRWIN Tools is honoring him for being chosen as its Tradesman of the Year.

"It is really overwhelming," Teeples said. "I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would receive something like this. I do not feel that I do anything that special. I just get up and go to work."

Teeples is not a racing fan but is excited about going to the event and leading the command for 300 tradesman to announce "Drivers, start your engines."

"I am going to be experiencing NASCAR to the fullest," Teeples said.

"Day in and day out, we hear stories about the significant contributions of America's tradesmen," Rich Mathews, Senior Vice President of Marketing at IRWIN Tools, said in a news release. "We wanted to honor someone this weekend that could represent the millions of men and women that make up this country's real working hands -- a tradesman who exemplifies how hard work and dedication to his trade play a vital role in his community. John does exactly that."

As owner of John Teeples Construction in Harris County, Teeples has built houses, schools, stores, offices, arenas, parks, churches and more, and has been a driving force in the restoration work that is revitalizing uptown Columbus.

The company said Teeples also combines his building talents with his love of long-distance running to lead fundraising efforts and home-improvement and construction projects that help the nation's veterans.

In 2009, Teeples began Run for the Heroes, an annual 260-mile ultramarathon across Georgia in which he participates, that has raised $400,000 for House of Heroes, a nonprofit that makes minor repairs on the homes of veterans and their spouses at no cost to the family.

Currently, alongside the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Teeples is serving as general contractor to build a custom Smart Home for Sgt. 1st Class Michael Schlitz, who was severely injured in an IED explosion during a tour of duty in Iraq. "It is a project I am glad to be a part of," Teeples said.

"Tradesmen like John make my life work," Schlitz said in the release.

Teeples also owns Big Dog Running Company, which has stores in Columbus and Auburn, Ala., that sponsors several charity runs, and Iron Bank Coffee Company in downtown Columbus.

"Everything I have is an effort to make people's lives better," Teeples said.

He found out about his IRWIN honor about a month ago and film crews have already been here working on a special presentation featuring him.

Teeples, who said he loves to work with his hands, hopes to encourage young people to become carpenters, plumbers or electricians.

"Not many young people see it as a viable career. It is really hard work, but it is work that is needed," he said. "Tradesmen make lives better by improving the places where we live. The work is rewarding."

The release said IRWIN hopes that by honoring Teeples at the race it will encourage Americans to salute and honor all of our nation's trade professionals. Teeples will also be honored on National Tradesman Day, which is Sept. 20.

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