"I had 15 blessed years of knowing my best friend and I was planning to have 79," wrote Ashley Stanley
Tom Stanley
Credit: Facebook

A Kansas woman is mourning the loss of her husband and the father of her children after he was fatally struck by lightning while running a 50K race on Saturday in southeast Kansas.

Thomas Stanley, 33, was less than a quarter mile from the FlatRock trail race finish line at the Elk City State Park when he was struck by lightning, ABC News reported. He was hit as soon as an unexpected storm rolled into the area and racers quickly ran to help, performing CPR on the man.

“My heart hurts and I feel sick to my stomach. I had 15 blessed years of knowing my best friend and I was planning to have 79,” Thomas’ wife, Ashley Stanley, wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. “I want so badly for him to hold me now and to feel his face on mine. He was the most amazing man — and I’m not just saying that. I don’t know how to do this.”

Tom Stanley
Thomas Stanley

Race officials said in a Facebook statement that although Thomas, of Andover, “was not able to cross the finish line, he did complete a 50K in distance and is recognized as a finisher.”

“A lot of the participants who were there tending to him are having a very hard time dealing with this loss,” race director Carolyn Robinson told ABC. “They did everything they could.”

He came in 11th place out of 104 participants, records show. Race officials said in the Facebook post that they would make time adjustments for those who stopped to help Thomas.

“I stayed with Tom from the beginning till the paramedics arrived, administering CPR,” one Facebook user wrote in a comment on the post. “But I don’t care about time correction.”

The family described Thomas as a “devoted husband, father, and friend,” according to ABC. The couple had three young children, and all of them are “devastated,” the family said.

Thomas was the director of business initiatives at the Kansas Leadership Center, according to the center’s website.

“For fun, he runs endlessly to train for his next race and enjoys spending time with his wife, Ashley, their daughters, Charlotte and Claire, and son Peter,” his staff bio states.

A GoFundMe page set up for the family has raised nearly $50,000 of its $75,000 goal. Officials continued to honor Thomas in Facebook posts over the weekend, describing his as a “wonderful man.”

“Thomas’ family says that the chances of being killed by a lightning strike are about one in a million,” race organizers said, “and Thomas was truly a one-in-a-million guy.”