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An inspired run
More than 50 runners from across Missouri and the surrounding states will take to the track in an endurance run next weekend to raise money for the Howard L. Aslinger Foundation.
When Aslinger died last summer, his family wanted to honor his memory by establishing the foundation and awarding scholarships to individuals with disabilities. The Cape Girardeau man contracted poliomyelitis as an 11-year-old in the 1950s and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
"My husband passed away in June, and he always wanted to help others with disabilities," said Jean Aslinger, president of the Aslinger Foundation.
"He did not have all the opportunities he deserved when he was younger and always wanted to start a scholarship program to help people with disabilities further their education."
She said the scholarships can be used at any institution that will help students further their education. Aslinger said it was important to her husband for individuals with disabilities to realize they can always do something to better themselves.
"He always said, 'It's not a handicap. It's an inconvenience.' He did things for himself. He went everywhere on his own," she said.
The late Aslinger was involved with coaching youth sports and helped establish the Cape Area Youth Soccer Association.
Next weekend's endurance run is designed to not only raise money for scholarships, but help participants push their limits. Participants will have the option to run or walk for 24 hours, 12 hours or one hour. The event is designed with three different start times so all of the runners end about the same time.
Foundation member Bryan Kelpe said the endurance run reflects Howard's love of sports and introduces a new challenge to many in the region.
"I wanted to do an event that was different than any other in the area," Keple said. "I also wanted an event that would challenge participants to test their physical abilities and to be inconvenienced."
Kelpe said he wants runners to push themselves during the event and hopefully accomplish personal bests. He said he hopes Howard's memory will serve as inspiration. Kelpe, who married Howard and Jean's daughter, will run the 24-hour leg with his wife, Kim.
Runners "may enter a zone of discomfort that is temporary," Kelpe said. "Howard dealt with discomfort and pain continuously."
One of the event's runners, Jason Niswonger of Jackson, said Howard's memory provides him with a little extra push to endure the 24-hour run.
"It is definitely a little more motivation," he said. "I knew Mr. Aslinger, and he was always doing something for a cause. I am looking forward to running. The fact that this run has his name on it makes it even better."
As a veteran of many ultra running events, Niswonger said when participating in a major test of endurance, attitude is the key.
"It is all mental," he said. "Push your personal limit. It gives you confidence. It is what you make it."
While remaining on the track for 24 hours can seem daunting, Niswonger said there are food and bathroom breaks. There will also be a fully stocked aid station at the run.
The Howard L. Aslinger Foundation Endurance Run will be Friday and Saturday in the 4-H Building at Arena Park in Cape Girardeau. The 24-hour and 12-hour night phase will start at 7 p.m. Friday. The 12-hour day phase will start at 7 a.m. Saturday. The one-hour phase will start at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Registrations are still being accepted. In addition to the registration fee, participants are encouraged to take pledges. All participants will receive a T-shirt, water bottle, certificate of completion and a post-run meal.
For more information about the endurance run or the Aslinger Foundation, visit www.howardaslingerfoundation.org.