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Fun Run an emotional race in 2013

WORTHINGTON — Typically, the YMCA Fun Run is an emotional affair. Laughing kids, smiling parents. That kind of emotional release.

But this year, the 31st annual Fun Run introduced a little more emotion than usual.

Julie Haas, a longtime volunteer, ran the course a day early because she knew how busy she would be with her Run duties on Wednesday afternoon, the day of the real event. “I had tears in my eyes halfway around,” she said. “The whole time I was praying for him, and all of a sudden I was in tears. I can’t believe Wayne isn’t here to run this.”

Everyone at the 2013 Fun Run — and there were many — felt the absence of Wayne Klumper, the longtime YMCA program director who received multiple injuries on June 25 from a motorcycle accident. Klumper, who helped create the Fun Run, still has a lengthy recovery period ahead.

In the meantime, his many friends have sprung into action to help the family with expenses. A portion of the Fun Run sign-up fees are being used for that purpose.

Just minutes before the start of racing for the half-mile, mile and 5K events, C.J. Nelson, the current YMCA program director, was excited about the turnout.

“We had 58 pre-registered, which is the most we’ve ever had,” Nelson said as runners continued to stream in. “It’s going to be a real good turnout. People have been talking about it all day long.”

Many of the runners approached the registration area at Olson Park wearing “He Heals” T-shirts, with “Psalm 147:3” written on the back. The T-shirts were specially made to support Klumper.

Also in attendance were Klumper’s three children, Dan, Tresse and Joe, and other family members.

“It’s going to be emotional for us. We’ve come here alot and our dad’s always been with us,” said Dan. “Even though he’s doing really well at Sanford (Hospital, in Sioux Falls, S.D.), we’re still going to miss him.”

“The first thing I noticed was all the chalk arrows,” said Joe, who used to help his dad outline the course when he was little.

This year, Nelson marked out the course with Tom Navara, who was a member of the program committee when the Fun Run was first introduced.

Another who had his He Heals T-shirt on was Al Baloun, a longtime friend of Klumper’s who organized his own fundraising challenge to former YMCA employees. Baloun said he’s not much of a runner, but he was ready to run, “and walk” the 5K race on Wednesday.

“I’m here. I’m gonna follow through with it,” he said.

Said Haas: “We’ve got lots of people in the 5K — people who have never run a 5K in their lives.”

For Haas, too, her best running days are behind her. But she did it. For Wayne.

“It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy. And it certainly wasn’t fast. But I got it done,” she said.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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