JEFFERSON - After months of rehabilitation after being seriously injured by an explosive device in Afghanistan, Sgt. Aaron Alonso, 26, proved that his hard work and dedication were beginning to pay off when he participated in and finished the first Lake Shawnee 5K alongside his friends and family on Sunday, September 7.
“It feels awesome,” Alonso said in response to the support he felt from the community after he crossed the finish line. A number of participants shook his hand, saying that he was an
inspiration to them, but Alonso said that he wasn’t without inspiration himself. “For every one of us who comes home, there’s some of us who didn’t, and those are the guys I do this for.”
“He’s got a long road ahead of him,” said Brett Decker, 28, a long-time friend to Alonso, “but he’s strong. His will is incredible, and he’ll get there.”
Over 250 people participated in the run and dozens of others came out to volunteer their time during the event, which raised money to be donated to Alonso Strong in order to assist with Aaron’s recovery.
“We’re at $3000 right now, but we’re really hoping to at least his $5000 after we count the few walk-ins we expect,” said event organizer Dina Troha. After registration, the amount of walk-ins matched the number of pre-registered runners. By the end of the next day, the donations were counted at over $9000.
Medals were given to the top 3 male and female runners, as well as the top 3 runners under the age of 11, but that was hardly the main incentive for people to participate.
The Alonso family will receive nearly all of the money raised, thanks to the amount of volunteers keeping the cost of the event down to almost nothing. With the exception of CompuScore’s services and the temporary restrooms, everything was donated; runners supplied the fee for their own t-shirts and many businesses even paid to sponsor the event, including EXIT Realty and CrossFit J Town. When Aaron finished the race, he thanked his supporters wholeheartedly.
“Again, I want to say I appreciate everyone who comes out to these events, especially the young people here,” he said. “It’s great to see younger kids outside and not playing video games!”
Alonso followed up by announcing his plan to speak with Eric Wilsusen and Mayor Russell Felter about a project to reconstruct some of the playgrounds in the neighborhood in order to get more kids out and living an active and healthy lifestyle, saying he wanted to find any way he could to give back to the community that gave so much to help him.
“Every day, it hurts, but I wake up and look out to the future and see what I can do,” Alonso said. “My daughter, Riley, is turning one next week and it’s just great to be able to be here for that.”