The Kutztown Fool’s Run opened with a moment of silence for the late Robert Focht.
An avid runner, Focht, 50, of the Kutztown area, collapsed seven miles into the 10-mile race last year.
“We are going to officially retire his number forever, number 128,” said Kutztown Optimist Don Sechler.
Number 128 was not seen on the course during the race on Saturday, April 6.
Wearing bright orange shirts, 42 runners, walkers and supporters honored the memory of Focht.
“My husband was the one who died in the race last year,” said Kathy Focht. “So almost everyone you see in orange is running for him.”
Some ran in the 10-mile race while others ran or walked in the 5k, and some stood on the sidelines and cheered on the runners.
Kathy said they wanted to participate in the Fool’s Run “to honor him, to honor his memory, to be part of what he was doing because he enjoyed it and everyone else came to support us.”
About 500 participated in the Fool’s Run, a decrease from previous years that Sechler attributed to Easter pushing the race date back a week and this weekend there were also a number of other big races in the region.
“We had great support from the community as always and even from outside the community,” said Sechler.
Proceeds support the Optimist Club of Kutztown and the Donald Peters Memorial Scholarship Fund.
“I like that a lot of people come here from around the area,” said Optimist Steve O’Neil, son-in-law of the late Donald Peters. “I think we put on a good race. People are real happy when they come here and I think they’re happy when they leave.”
The Donald Peters Memorial Scholarship Fund provides scholarship assistance to students in the Kutztown, Brandywine Heights, and Fleetwood area school districts.
“The Fools Run gives six $1,000 scholarships to seniors from Kutztown, Brandywine and Fleetwood high school to Kutztown University,” said Optimist Mark Prevoznik. “The Kutztown University football team helps us out as well and we also donate $1,000 to their program for their scholarship program.”
KU football players were seen along the race course offering water and directing runners.
“We have a really nice course here and we’re glad to see people come out and help the community,” said Prevoznik.
Runner Chelsea Bernal, Bethlehem, really enjoyed the Fools Run.
“I love the course,” saidBernal. “This will be my third year. I usually place at the back of the pack, but you know, it’s all about finishing and having a good time.”
The Webb sisters Lexi, 10, and Gabriella, 8, from Kutztown, participated in the half mile Fun Run and Walk for ages 6 to 13. Gabriella said she loves running because it gets out all of her energy.
“We just decided to be running and we just wanted to come out here and have some fun today,” said Lexi.
For more information and for race results, visit http://kutztownfoolsrun.com/.
Correspondent Roxanne Richardson contributed to this article.