Teen finishes 25K run wearing shoes of late father who died during race
Jason Kinzler died of a heart attack just one mile from the finish line of the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on May 14, 2011.
Six years later, his 14-year-old son Jake finished the race for him -- while wearing his late father's shoes.
"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,'" Jake told WXMI.
Sure enough, Jake's mother, Kristi Kinzler, was waiting for him by the 14 mile mark so he could trade his running shoes for his father's, the exact same pair the late Kinzler wore during the tragic race in 2011.
See photos from the race:
Naturally, crossing the finish line was an emotional experience for Jake and his whole family.
"I was thinking about him just running there next to me and what it was like for him running in these shoes, and what it would have been like if he would have been able to continue," he told WZZM.
Hannah, Jake's 16-year-old sister, also ran the race alongside her brother in honor of their father.
"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," she said.
After Kinzler's death, the family started the Jason Kinzler First Family Foundation, which helps provide financial assistance to families with young children who have experienced the unexpected loss of a primary care-giver.
If you would like more information regarding the Jason Kinzler Family First Foundation, or know of a family that could benefit from their services, click here.