A Tough Race for a Tough Cause

by Becky Davenport

Time is getting close for the annual Hoops for Life 5K. We have previously shared with you how to register, where to register, and a bit of history about Hoops for Life. There is no question asked that Hoops for Life is an amazing event, but what makes this event double in numbers yearly and keep previous participants coming back year after year? Folks like Bryan Kelpe, Ashley Schmittzehe, and Kevin Hammes can tell you why they make this race part of their lives year after year.


Ashley has finished in the top 20 in both 2010 and 2011, but her connections to Hoops for Life did not start at the race. Ashley’s connection runs all way back to girlhood and the reason Hoops for Life is what it is today. Ashley took a few moments to reminisce back to her days in daycare where she became good friends or sometimes not good friends with Sahara Aldridge. Ashley jokes about their love/hate relationship, shares a story about Sahara sneaking a kitten into daycare the day the health inspector just happened to be coming by. She blames Sahara’s ability to get away with tricks like this on her infectious smile.


Ashley says she looks forward to the Hoops for Life race every year and this year is extra excited for the Rick Springfield concert as he was the first person she ever saw in concert. Last year Ashley had the honor of wearing Sahara’s number (21) for the Hoops for Life race noting it was tremendous honor to have the privilege to represent Sahara during the race.


Ashley runs for Maryville University, but runs road races like Hoops for Life during the summer. This summer she plans to run 6 or 7 races. She adds that her dad and sister run also, so races have become a shared family experience. While Ashley is obviously a dedicated and regular runner, she encourages anyone and everyone to come out and join the fun for the cause with Hoops for Life. Ashley says, “By participating you know you’re helping other children suffering from the same disease Sahara did. Hoops for Life is more than a road race, it is a community affair with people gathering from all over the country to support the cause.”


Kevin Hames, also a dedicated supporter of Hoops for Life and winner of the 2010 race, says it would be amazing to have 700 people participate in this year’s race and even if you are not a runner don’t hesitate to join the fun and support the cause. Kevin normally participates in 15 to 20 races a year and he shares that races are a great place to meet new motivated friends, folks from all over Missouri, and give you a positive reinforcement you may need if you are thinking about becoming a runner. Kevin’s motivation for Hoops for Life is to stop cancer so no one else has to go through what Sahara did. His plan is to always run, walk, or volunteer for the Hoops for Life race.


Bryan Kelpe the 2011 winner for Hoops for Life may trade in his running shoes this year and become a volunteer for the race. He says while he loves the competition the cause outweighs it by far, and anyone who is even thinking about running should sign up and sign up early. Whether you run or walk, Hoops for Life will challenge you and give you the opportunity to experience the great atmosphere that surrounds this event.


Time is ticking by until the opening whistle blows on July 21 and the runners take off. I personally have participated the past two years in this race and know exactly what these other three runners are saying. Hoops for Life is more than just a race it is something special; it is a memory to be kept and a memory to made. From the moment, you fill out your registration papers to the moment you cross that finish line you will experience something beyond just a Saturday morning run. I think back to the first Hoops for Life race when I was a “less” experienced runner and watching all the “more” experienced runners cheer me on as I crossed the finish line. It did not matter that many of them had finished way before me because not only were they cheering for me they were cheering for the cause.


The Hoops for Life 5K is Saturday, July 21 starting at 8 am There is still time to register to run or walk (don’t hesitate to is for the cause). After the race stick around awhile and enjoy the atmosphere, but don’t forget to also purchase your tickets now for the Rick Springfield concert that evening. All proceeds from both of these events go directly to pediatric cancer research in memory of Sahara Aldridge.

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