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Jul. 4—Never underestimate the motivating power of a whole smoked hog.
The smell of smoked meat wafted through Mammoth Park on Sunday morning, teasing the taste buds of participants in the inaugural Mike Reese Memorial 5K Roast, Run & Family Fun event, organized in memory of former state Rep. Mike Reese, who died unexpectedly in January.
"We wanted to be able to do something near to the things Mike enjoyed doing. A friend approached me a number of weeks back and said he had an idea for a run and roast," said David Keefer, who frequently would go for runs with Reese. "We shared what we were thinking with (Reese's wife) Angela and thought it would be a nice way to celebrate Mike."
Keefer's wife, Dawn, said more than 230 people already were registered as of Sunday morning, with more arriving.
Money from the race's registration fee will go toward establishing a foundation in Reese's name, with the goal of helping children participate in local sports.
"It's all about youth sports, family involvement and making sure kids all have an opportunity to play," Dawn Keefer said. "That's something Mike was very passionate about."
From local cheerleaders to friends and family, the pavilion at Mammoth Park was filled and buzzing with activity Sunday morning.
"It's just amazing. I've been blown away," Angela Reese said. "It's just amazing how many people have turned out for this, showed their support and called me to say they wanted to be here. It just shows how much this community means to all of us."
Reese was 42 when he died in January of an apparent brain aneurysm. Last month, a stretch of Route 981 in Mt. Pleasant Township was renamed in his memory.
Reese's brother, Dave, thanked those in attendance.
"It's so wonderful to see so many people out here," he said.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .