INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – College athletes are running to remember a friend.
Last week, Jake Graf would’ve turned 21 years old and this weekend his teammates at IUPUI are racing in his honor.
“We miss him, and we want to do this in remembrance of him,” said David Ehlers, Jake’s teammate.
Jake was a freshman at IUPUI and was on the track and cross-country team. Sadly, Jake’s teammates didn’t get enough time with him. While he was home for winter break back in December of 2016, Jake was killed in an accidental shooting. After graduating, he wanted to be a Marine.
“I was in disbelief,” said Ehlers said of his friend's death.
Teammates quickly turned into friends and that’s why this weekend, they’re all running a race for the first time: The Jacob Graf Memorial Run.
“I know he liked us as much as we liked him, so I think he’d appreciate the impact and the legacy that we’re trying to carry on for him,” said Lucas Rhed, Jake’s teammate.
Jake’s teammates described him as a fierce competitor with a contagious spirit.
“He was a funny guy. (He was) warm and fuzzy but also someone I respected. I had a lot of admiration for him,” said Joshua Everetts, another teammate.
These runners still carry Jake’s memory with them on their wrists, their backs and most importantly, in their hearts.
“I would want him to know we still think about him,” said Ehlers.
Even though Jake won’t be there crossing the finish line, his friends know they’ll feel him in every stride.
“We all looked up to Jake for the fact that, he did things the right way. He wasn’t the guy that cut corners, he wasn’t the guy that took anything for granted. I think that makes everyone affiliated with Jake and with our team more appreciative of life,” said Rhed.
The race is Sunday, March 3. Starting time at Crown Hill Cemetery is scheduled at 10 a.m. There is an 8K, 5K, and a 1-mile fun run/walk. Click here if you’d like more information.