Generations: Gangers to bring four to 2009 Steve’s Run

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Four generations of the Ron Ganger family will be walking in this year’s Steve’s Run on July 25 in Dowagiac.

Wearing yellow shirts with “Ganger’s Gang” written across the front, the 15 members of the family will participate in the 35th annual road and trail race, which includes a 10K and 5K race, as well as a 5K competitive walk and a 1K fun run/walk.

Ron Ganger, of Dowagiac, will turn 77 the day before the race on July 24. He will be joined by his 8-year-old great-grandson, Jacob deVarona, his grandson, Brian deVarona, and his daughter, Rhonda deVarona, all of Granger, Ind.

“Three years ago, we had 23 members of the family in the race,” said Ganger, who has participated in Steve’s Run for the past six or seven years. “This year will be the first time we will have four generations.”

The four members will participate in the 5K walk this year. Ganger said most of the other members are all his grandchildren but this is the first time he will be joined by a great-grandson. His granddaughter, Becky deVarona, who normally runs the 10K race, is expecting a child and opted not to participate this year, Ganger said.

The original road and trail race was renamed “Steve’s Run” in memory of Steven Briegel, a Southwestern Michigan College honors graduate who lost his fight against cancer in 1990. All funds raised, including 100 percent of the pledge monies, are donated to SMC’s Steven Briegel Scholarship Fund and the Mayo Clinic Cancer Research Fund.

“We think the race is a good cause,” said Ganger, who lost his father to cancer and has several family members who have battled the disease.

All cancer survivors who participate in the race will receive a special T-shirt beforehand, and all survivors will be recognized after the race. In addition, “Fire Up” signs, which are placed along the 5K and 10K course, can be purchased memorializing cancer victims or survivors. Runners can collect pledges for donations to the cancer clinic or scholarship fund.

Steve’s Run begins at 9 a.m. July 25 in downtown Dowagiac. Runners and walkers of the 5K traverse through city streets, across the Elks Club Golf Course into the Riverside Cemetery and back into downtown for a finish at Lion’s Park.

The 10K course splits from the 5K run in the cemetery, where runners race through Southwestern Michigan College’s wooded cross country trails and across campus before returning to the finish.

For more information, contact Ron Gunn, director of SMC’s Extreme Sports program, at 782-1209.