GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) –- Many who participated in one of the Fifth Third River Bank Run races Saturday ran in honor of a friend or loved one who recently passed away.
Four local high school students who passed away this year were remembered during the race: three from Grandville High School and one from Muskegon Heights Public Schools Academy.
One group ran for the three late Grandville High School students: Alyssa Arends, 15, a freshman who died from bone cancer; Ryan Fischer, a 17-year-old senior who died in his sleep and had a heart condition that contributed to his death; and Roman Aguilar-Emmons, 18, who was killed last week in a car crash.
Another group ran in the memory of Marquis Gresham, a 17-year-old standout basketball player from Muskegon Heights who was fatally shot in April. They wore grey shirts with a picture of Gresham on the back, with the words “In memory of Crispy Marquis.”
And one man who was a well-known member of the Grand Rapids running community who also recently passed away was remembered by a group of local runners.
The group donned American flag shorts in honor of Jim Kelly, who was out on a run in November 2014 when he was hit and killed by a car in Cascade Township.
The Running for Jenny team ran to honor Jenny Heeren who was killed in July, 2011. Heeren, her daughter, parents and three others were murdered after she tried to leave her abusive husband.
The team was formed by Safe Haven Ministries to remember Heeren and end domestic violence. In 2013, the 160-member team was able to raise $30,000 to help support victims of domestic violence, according to a release.
Some stories continue to inspire, like that of Rockford’s Johnny Agar and his dad Jeff. Johnny has cerebral palsy and uses a customized cart pushed by his father. This year, Johnny got up on his own to cross the finish line for his fastest ever 5K.