Setting the Pace

Longtime Spectrum Health Irish Jig 5K supporter takes on new role


Ted Droski would rather be running. Instead, he and one of his two daughters will ride in the pace car that will lead the way for Spectrum Health Irish Jig 5K participants as they run through the streets of East Grand Rapids on Saturday, March 19.

Now in its 33rd year, the Irish Jig has grown to become one of Michigan’s premier 5K races. It is an event with a cause: raise awareness of colorectal cancer prevention and treatment. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined.

Droski, an information services professional at Spectrum Health, started as a volunteer for the event in 2007. By 2008, he got the running bug and started participating in the race itself. In 2010, Ted joined the Irish Jig Race Committee supporting the Triple Crown race series. Along the way, Ted has completed two marathons, several obstacle course races and countless 5Ks.

On August 4th 2015, Ted’s life and role in the Spectrum Health running community would be changed forever.

It was his daughter’s 17th birthday and Droski was on his way to work. Some loose items were rolling around in the trunk of his car so he pulled to the side of the road to secure them. As he was opening his trunk, another vehicle slammed into him, crushing him between his car—the driver blinded by the August sunrise.

“All I remember is being on the ground, no pain, and a lot of helpers and first responders” he recalled.

Droski wouldn’t be back to work for months. His legs had been crushed and his back broken in the accident. His right leg had to be amputated. He would endure six surgeries in all to get him back on track. Ted spent three weeks at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.

“The nice thing about working here and being a patient is that despite my trauma, the hospital feels like home. My friends are here and will visit me every day and they keep me going,” said Droski.

He credits his friends and family for getting him through the challenges of the past year.

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in my 20 years at Spectrum Health, many of them my friends, and many of them runners. Knowing I have their love and support has meant the world to me.”

Droski was able to return to work in February however another infection put him back in the hospital for a short stint this month. Despite it all, Droski relishes his role as one of ‘the Jig’s’ biggest cheerleaders. Ted expects to be fitted for a prosthetic leg in the next few weeks and will continue his prosthetic training on his way to walking and maybe one day, running the Spectrum Health Irish Jig again.

“I may not be running but I want to help all I can. This is a great event and a great cause,” said Droski.

The race is limited to 4,500 runners. Early registration is available now through March 17 at Irish Jig top age group winners receive prizes and the top overall finishers receive cash awards. For more information, visit, email or call  616.391.4JIG (4544). Share via #IrishJig2016.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 12 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 188 ambulatory and service sites; more than 3,400 physicians and advanced practice providers, including nearly 1,400 members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group; and Priority Health, a health plan with about 710,000 members. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer, with 24,100 employees. The organization provided $283 million in community benefit during its 2015 fiscal year. Spectrum Health is the only health system in Michigan to be named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems® by Truven Health Analytics for 2015. This is the fourth time the organization has received this recognition.