PERU - When Ruth Hamilton LaClair's father, Robert "Chip" Hamilton, passed away, she knew she wanted to do something to remember him. Considering she has always had a passion for running and her father was very supportive of her hobby, she felt it only made sense to put together an event that would combine her love for running with the love for her father.
That's how the first annual Octoberfest Half-Marathon was born.
"I'm an avid runner, so essentially I thought of a way to honor my father with something I enjoyed doing," said LaClair. "And, we discovered there isn't really much around here in the fall. So, we decided to put together our own half-marathon."
The event was originally intended to be held in time for Fathers Day as a way to honor LaClair's father and his recovery from a lung transplant he underwent in October. However, Hamilton suffered complications from the procedure, leading the event to be pushed back. When he passed away in January, the event took a new focus - honoring LaClair's father and raising awareness of pulmonary fibrosis, the condition which claimed his life at the age of 64.
"Pulmonary fibrosis a lung disease where the lungs themselves become hard and can't absorb oxygen and distribute it the way they should," explained LaClair. "And, a lot of people have it but it gets misdiagnosed. That's why we're doing this. We hope we can get the word out about it and find a cure."
Though the half-marathon won't be held until the fall, LaClair is getting the word out early to encourage people to sign up for the inaugural event.
"We really want this to be a success so it will honor him the way he deserves," said LaClair, adding all proceeds from the event will benefit the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.