Woman reaches out to runner's family - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Woman reaches out to runner's family

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STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) -

Before Savannah's Rock & Roll marathon last week, Katie Jasionkowski had not connection to Jake Zeman. That changed near the finish line.

"As some of us crossed the finish line, we heard 'runner down, runner down' and all the commotion began," she recalled.

Zeman had collapsed on the course. He was rushed to a hospital but died.

An autopsy revealed a unsuspected heart condition. Katie saw the report of Zeman's death Saturday on her way back home from the race.

"What resonated with me [when his name and other details were released] was we were exactly the same age [35]. I have a young family. He had a young family," she explained.

"I take it for granted that I can go out and run 26.2 [miles] and none of us know how long we're able to do that,"she noted.

Jasionkowski wrote a letter to Zeman's family, the kind of letter she said she would want someone to write to her family in such a circumstance.

"I would want someone to reach out to me. If my heart was this broken, I would want any kind of love and support, even from complete strangers. It happened so fast, but the healing will take a very, very long time, she added.

She created a Facebook page, "Medals for Jake", and encouraged others in Statesboro's running community to join her. In addition, she's pledged to send her finisher medal to go with the letter as a show of support.

"There are a lot of different kinds of races we face in life," she noted. "Sending the medal just seemed like a symbol of hope and of carrying on for them."

On Friday, Zeman's friends launched a scholarship fund for his two year old son. For more details, visit http://www.jackzemancollegefund.org/

Runners who wish to give their Rock and Roll finisher medals can drop them at Fleet Feet Savannah on Waters Avenue and Swim Bike Run on Brannen Street in Statesboro.

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