Finishing the race in his shoes: Teen runs in honor of late father

Posted at 5:34 AM, May 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-14 05:34:14-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It was perfect weather for the more than 17,000 racers who took to the streets Saturday for the 40th annual Fifth Third River Bank Run.

Many racing for a certain cause or loved one, including Jake Kinzler, who ran the 25k with his sister Hannah in honor of their dad.

"Not only are we doing it for him but we're helping raise money and awareness for other families who have gone through similar things that we have," says Hannah.

Their father Jason Kinzler passed away after a heart attack six years ago during the Fifth Third River Bank Run, just one mile from the finish line. So this year his son switched into his dad's shoes at the 14 mile mark.

"When he passed away I told my mom… someday I want to finish the race in his shoes and I remember she told me she said I kept the shoes because I knew you would say that someday," says Jake.

The race also featured the only 25k wheelchair racing division in the nation and a 25k hand-cycle division with 54 racers from all over the world.

Maria Besta with Mary Free Bed says, "I think people don't realize just how competitive people with disabilities are in their respective sports, this is just as competitive as people who race a foot race."

Overall the Fifth Third River Bank Run was a successful day for setting goals.

First time 5k runner, Steve Brown says, "17 pounds later, here I am, ran my first 5k today in 42 minutes and I couldn't be happier and I am honoring my mom today."