Time can heal but it doesn’t forget. For Gary Aletto, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon not only helped him honor a lost loved one, it’s added so much to his life.
Gary’s Mini story began ten years ago when he lost his brother-in-law, Pete, to Colon Cancer. To Gary, Pete was so much more than a brother-in-law, he was a great friend and was like a second father to Gary’s kids. Pete was an avid runner who had completed several marathons. Several of Pete’s friends from within the running community decided they would travel to Indianapolis to run in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in his honor. Inspired by their gesture, Gary committed to joining them and running in his first Mini-Marathon in Pete’s memory.
When you ask Gary about his first Mini, it never fails, you’ll be greeted with the biggest smile and Gary’s trademark laugh as he tells you, “I wasn’t really much of a runner, so needless to say, my race wasn’t pretty.” Gary finished with a respectable time, just over 3 hours. As he crossed the finish line he decided that he didn’t want the Mini to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, he wanted it to be a tradition. Gary not only made running part of his life, he also got involved with the 500 Festival, the nonprofit organization that produces the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, serving on its Board of Directors.
10 years, 40 pounds, and hundreds of miles later, 2015 marked Gary’s 10th consecutive Mini-Marathon. It was also the year that Gary was elected chairman of the 500 Festival Board of Directors. A lot has changed since Gary’s first Mini. He’s a little faster (his streak of sub 2-hour half marathons is pretty impressive), he has a couple of new running buddies – his daughters who he helped train for their first Mini, and his cheering section’s gotten quite a bit larger thanks to the countless people his met through his work with the 500 Festival. You could also say that his experience at the Start Line has changed quite a bit. As chairman of the 500 Festival Board of Directors, he had the honor of waving the green flag to start the race!
One thing that hasn’t changed after all of these years, Gary’s never forgotten the reason he runs the Indy Mini. After Gary completed his duties at the Start Line, he got out of the bucket truck and ran in his 10th Mini in honor and memory of Pete. Pete was with Gary as he crossed the Yard of Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his memory gave Gary the wind at his back needed to finish that last mile stronger than ever.
The Mini has given Gary the opportunity to keep Pete’s memory alive and make the community a better place, proving you just never know where those 13.1 miles will lead you in life! And yes, Gary’s planning to take on the 2016 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. He’s gotta keep his sub 2-hour streak alive!
What inspires you to participate in the 2016 Indy Mini? Share your story in the comments below or on our website and you could be our next My #IndyMini Story!