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The Journal Gazette

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Dave Edsall honored his father and father-in-law with their names on his race bib at the annual Father's Day 5K sponsored by Associated Churches. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017 1:00 am

Run honors fathers and community

Associated Churches' 5K goal: 'Celebrate community'

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

As fitness running events go, Associated Churches' Father's Day 5K is a modest affair – about 160 runners, a short course, a good cause and, perhaps its biggest draw, a post-race pancake breakfast.

The event is designed “to build community, celebrate community,” as the Rev. Roger Reece, Associated Churches' executive pastor, put it just after completing the approximately 3.1-mile course himself.

One would hardly expect the event to be anyone's training run for the 2020 Olympics.

Nonetheless, that was one reason Cody White ran the race through east-central Fort Wayne Saturday morning – and won it with a blistering 15:39 finish, just over a 5-minute-per-mile pace.

Then there was the other reason, one he shared with many other race participants – honoring his father.

“He was the one who got me into running when I was in junior high school,” White said of his dad, Kevin White.

“He was always encouraging.”

“Encouraging” was a word many race participants used in describing their dads, and, sometimes, their grandfathers.

William Harris, 79, of Fort Wayne, spoke of his father's extraordinary dedication when he, as a 12-year-old, contracted polio.

“He slept in a chair in my room all the while I was recovering,” said Harris of his father, also named William Harris. “He always encouraged me.”

Frank Murphy, 47, of Fort Wayne, said he ran the race to honor his mother's father, a man he never met.

“He passed away before I was born,” said Murphy of Frank Palmer, “but my mother tells me he's the greatest man ever.”

Hunter Dimond, 16, has made running the race, which he won last year, a Father's Day tradition.

Dimond's father couldn't come with the Leo Jr./Sr. High School student Saturday because he's working in Detroit. 

But Dimond, who will see his father today, said he'd give the race an all-out effort to honor his dad for “just how reliable he is.”

“He's always there when I need him, be it for emotional support or just to be with,” said Dimond, who will be a junior this fall.

In its third year, the race benefits several of Associated Churches' programs – a food bank, aid to military families, a recovery program for addicted teens and A Baby's Closet, which supplies items to new parents in need.

The goal was to raise $5,000, said Reece, who had his own fatherhood-related honor Friday night.

Although he didn't officiate, he witnessed the marriage of his son, Rob Reece, a New Haven police officer, to Jada Lunsey. The wedding took place at Taylor Chapel in Fort Wayne.

“I added a new daughter. I'm very pleased about that,” the elder Reece said, confessing he was still tired from the festivities.

Asked how he did on the course, he laughed.

“I don't know how I did,” he said. “I only know it's old man time.”

rsalter@jg.net