ELKHART — Snow, cold and slick conditions didn't deter them.
Several hundred showed up Saturday, March 8, to take part in the Sarah Strong 5K, braving steady snowfall and a slippery five-kilometer course around Elkhart to show their support for Sarah Crane and a nonprofit group forming in her name. Sarah's the 15-year-old Elkhart Memorial High School student who died last December after a fight with colon cancer.
"Humbling and overwhelming," Dean Crane, Sarah's father, said of Saturday's showing after finishing the run. "Also, there's a sense of pride as a father, (that) your daughter touched so many people."
He, among several others, said Sarah — who had run cross country for Elkhart Memorial — would have appreciated the conditions.
"She loved the snow," he said. "She's laughing. She thinks this is hilarious."
Around 650 registered for the event and the funds raised — around $8,000 to $9,000, according to initial tallies — will go toward the Sarah Strong Foundation, according to Mark Davidhizar, who helped organize the event. The aim of the foundation, still taking shape, is to help those being treated for cancer and their families.
But generating funds was hardly the sole purpose Saturday. "We are celebrating her life through the running," said Brenda Mueller, director of Saturday's event and treasurer in the Sarah Strong Foundation.
'WE'RE SARAH STRONG TODAY'
Those participating Saturday ranged from serious runners clad in high-tech shoes to walkers sporting jeans and heavy coats.
Rachael Marbeiter was there, in part as a show of support in the fight against cancer. "My dad died of cancer. Anything I can do to support families of cancer (victims)," she said.
Sally Faus, Sarah's grandmother, was there with a group of friends, each adorned with purple frill. They planned to walk the course.
"I think it's perfect for Sarah because this is her kind of a day. She loved snow. Not just liked, loved," Faus said.
Numerous Elkhart Memorial students took part as well. Juan Gonzalez, a senior at the school, said Sarah's battle is still a regular topic of conversation in the school. Purple — the color that symbolized her fight with cancer — is still regularly seen in the hallways.
A contingent of about 50 employes from ASA Electronics in Elkhart, including Melissa Seitzinger and Cori Owens, took part.
"Anything we can do to fight cancer. Anything to support Elkhart," said Seitzinger. She was wearing a purple Sarah Strong hoodie and said employees at the company, like many in Elkhart County, followed the ups and downs of Sarah's struggle with cancer.
"We're Sarah Strong today," Owens said.