Lisa Curley: My #IndyMini Story


95 pounds. That’s the weight Lisa Curley has taken off in the last 4-5 years. She’s been visiting Indianapolis her whole life, and now she’s going to run it.

Lisa, from Crown Point, Ind., grew up visiting Indy each May to see family and take part in the historic Hoosier tradition of the Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend.

“Indy is where my family is from,” she said. “I spent many Memorial Day weekends as a child on my grandparents’ back porch listening to the race on the radio.”

Her grandfather was an auditor for the State. During the days of Mario Andretti Sr., he was also a lap counter at the Speedway.

“The stories he could tell and his passion for that race were infectious,” she said.



Before 10-2012
Lisa (right) with her Aunt and Sister in 2012
Lisa Curley First 5K
Lisa (left) running her first 5K
Lisa Curley After
Lisa running a 5K
February 2016
Lisa in February 2016








In 2012, Lisa began to run as part of a weight loss journey. She ran local 5K races and was constantly challenging herself to beat her previous time, finish a tough race, or simply get healthier.

Now 95 pounds lighter in 2017, she’s ready for something she never thought was possible.

“When I decided I was finally ready to try a half marathon, there was no question I was running Indy,” she said. “I want to run across the bricks. I want my first half marathon to be in the place I have so much passion for.”

Lisa begins her training on February 4.

On May 6, 2017, she’ll get to race around the track she used to only hear about.  |  |  @500Festival  |  |  

August in May: An #IndyMini Story

This story took place in the magical month of May, but it became real just this week.




This past year – in May of 2016 – a Mini-Marathon participant by the name of Mark Seitz was about to run his 18th Indy Mini (applause Mark). Seitz picked up his packet at the Mini Expo per usual. Inside, he found a t-shirt, hat and bib; your typical goodies in a Mini package. But he found something not-so-typical, too; a hand-drawn picture with a note from a local elementary student.

August Stella was a 4th grade student at Carey Ridge Elementary school last year. He was one of 25,000 students to take part in the Indianapolis 500 and 500 Festival Education Program in 2016 – the first year students wrote notes to Mini-Marathoners. In his note, he wished a random participant (in this case, Seitz) good luck in the Mini. He also drew a blue race car.

As Seitz blazed the Mini course for yet another year, he took to the straight away at IMS thinking about the race car that August had drawn. Seitz decided to thank August for the motivation by giving him his Mini medal and bib. With the help of his wife, Linda, he did exactly that. Over 25,000 students wrote notes to 35,000 Mini-Marathon participants, so it seemed unlikely that this was anything more than a random act of kindness from August to Mark, and back again.

Linda took the medal, accompanied by a note to “Augie”, and delivered it to Carey Ridge Elementary. Later that night, Mark received a message from Augie’s mother, Leigh. The message read:

Mr. Seitz,

My name is Leigh Stella, and your wife, Linda, delivered your note, bib, and medal to my son Augie today.  

I cannot thank you enough for this kindness. Augie has had a tough school year… it’s been a struggle, but we’re hoping to finish strong. You might imagine how your note and gift has encouraged and excited Augie already.

We are so grateful that you sought Augie out — but I guess we should not be surprised… we were delighted to discover that you are married to one of our favorite people!  Linda cared for our daughter, Kate, in the infant room at Maple Glen.  It is indeed a small world!

Blessings to you sir!  You have made one little boy very proud… he hasn’t taken the medal off yet.

With fondness, The Stella Family



The story is such an awesome example of the impact of the Mini-Marathon, but it didn’t stop there. On Sunday, Nov. 12, Mark and Augie finally met… by accident… at a pizza restaurant.

“What a great day! I got to finally meet Augie!
Auggie and his family happened to walk into the same local pizza restaurant where Linda and I were dining this evening. Linda took the opportunity to introduce me to this cool young man.”

And with that, a now-5th grader and an experienced Mini-Marathoner became instant friends. Students will continue to write notes to Mini-Marathoners as part of the education program in 2017, and we hope to see more stories like this.

We love May here at the 500 Festival, but we’re pretty fond of August now, too.



Read Mark Seitz’ full blog

Learn about the Indy Mini and how you can run with a purpose through Mini With A Meaning


My #IndyMini Story: Gavin Thornberry

The One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon offers something for everyone.  Elite runners and families have made the Mini-Marathon a tradition because of the unique atmosphere and experience the Indy Mini offers. The Mini-Marathon appeals to participants of ALL ages and skill levels. This My #Indymini Story shows how this special running event sparked a passion for running with one of its youngest participants.


While finishing his first year of elementary school, Gavin Thornberry was already setting big goals. Gavin set out to finish the 13.1 course of the One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon as one of its youngest participants.


“I completed my first Mini-Marathon when I was six years old,” said Gavin.  “I’m 8 years old and this is my third year running the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.”

As a young athlete, Gavin knows the importance of proper training.  He attributes his successes to a training regimen that he practices multiple times each week. He also appreciates the motivational support that those on the sidelines along the course of the Indy Mini provide.


“To prepare myself I train four days a week in karate,” Gavin said. “When it comes to race day the people cheering on the side of the route keep me motivated to keep my pace.”

Gavin is not only passionate about fitness and running, but he also enjoys inspiring others through his   example to get active. He is looking forward to participating in the 40th running of the One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 7, 2016.

“I like running because I get to inspire other kids my age and I like hearing the people cheer me on when I run,” said Gavin.  “If you’ve read this and you see me on the route make sure to say ‘Hi!’.”


My #IndyMini Story: Chris Day

Dennis Waitley wrote, “Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next.” Many adults become downtrodden from stress in their day-to-day lives and forget the importance of taking care of themselves. This My #Indymini Story is one about how one man turned his life around, when he went from overweight to marathon runner.

Almost a decade ago, Chris Day was establishing himself as a financial advisor, balancing work and family life.  He tipped the scales at over 300 pounds, and was overstressed, sedentary, and struggling to walk even short distances. He knew he desperately needed to get healthy for himself and his family.

ChrisDay 3

For Chris, healthy changes were slow and gradual at first.  He changed his diet and added light exercise each day.  But, he knew he needed to do something more to get the drastic changes he so desired.

“I took things one day at a time focusing on diet and exercise and the important things I could control,” Chris said.

As a former track coach, Chris had an existing love for running so he began to add running back into his day-to-day routine. He got hooked on running again and before long he was running for distance. In no time, he was down 60 pounds and completing marathons!

ChrisDay 5ChrisDay 6

Since beginning his journey toward transformation, Chris has run the Boston Marathon as well as numerous One America 500 Festival Mini Marathons. He notes that by-far his best marathon experience was when his wife joined him to show her support in 2012 for the Indy Mini.


“The only thing better than achieving your own goals, is helping others achieve theirs!” Chris said.

To date, Chris is down almost 100 pounds, and he has a newfound enthusiasm and joy for life that he wants to share with others. He is registered to run the Indy Mini this year (his 20th half marathon), so when you see him you can congratulate him on his tremendous fitness achievements and progress.

ChrisDay 4

“This year I will return for the Indy Mini as a happy, healthy, 40-something, husband, father and ambassador for this great race- with the simple goal of inspiring others!”  Chris said.

There is still time to be a part of the 40th running of the 2016 One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon in Downtown Indianapolis on May 7th! For more information and to sign up today, click here.

My #IndyMini Story: Rueben McCracken

Teachers are responsible for so much more than just academics.  They also represent some of the most influential role models for young students.  This My #IndyMini Story is about a teacher who knows the importance of leading by example and how doing extraordinary things can inspire his students to do the same.

Rueben 1

Reuben McCracken is a teacher who knows the value of reaching his students on multiple levels, and his commitment to his students inside and outside of the classroom is unsurpassed.  Between developing lesson plans, grading, meetings and various other teaching responsibilities, Reuben is often short on time. But, he still makes the time to share his passion for running with his students by coaching his school’s track and field team.

As a track and field coach, Reuben knows that his role is so much more than merely teaching his team to run. He also imparts knowledge that they can relate to other experiences in their lives. Reuben has gained patience, perseverance, humility, and goal setting through running and he has been able to translate these attributes to other aspects of his life as well. He wants his students to benefit in the same ways that he has from running.

“Running the Indy Mini allows my students to see, first-hand how devotion and steadfastness bring about positive characteristics,” said Reuben McCracken.

Running the Mini-Marathon is a goal that Reuben shares with his team and his students, and by seeing his goal to fruition he demonstrates to them that they can also achieve great things if they put their minds to it.  Being a good teacher and coach, Reuben is constantly aware of his potential to inspire his students, and by motivating his students he helps ensure that they will reach their potential.

Rueben 2

Participating in a half-marathon requires commitment and hours of training.  Reuben’s hours of hard work and dedication are evidence of his selflessness and his desire to see his students accomplish amazing things. For Reuben, participating in the Mini Marathon is more about his students than himself.

“Sometimes the smallest achievement, such as completing a race for the first time, ends up being the biggest step in life,” said McCracken. “I want others to experience this first step to changing their life, be it running, pursuing a new career, or altering the path of intentions.”

Reuben has started his training for his 19th half-marathon, the 2016 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.  It is not too late for you train to run or walk in this year’s Indy Mini too!  You can register to participate too, just click here!

My #IndyMini Story: Rhonda Smith

Did you know that research has shown that those who volunteer live longer?  Ok, not really…but without volunteers the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon would not be possible!  It takes thousands of volunteers to make one of the nation’s largest half marathons a success and more than 500 of those volunteers come from the title sponsor of the Mini-Marathon.

This #IndyMini story is about the largest group of enthusiastic volunteers from OneAmerica who don’t look for praise for the jobs they do at the Mini-Marathon, but do what needs to be done to help make an impact in the community they love. Their contributions and hard work help make the Mini-Marathon a success each year.

For more than a decade, Randy and Rhonda Smith from OneAmerica have packed up their fifth wheel with tailgating supplies and headed out to the Mini-Marathon to bring together hundreds of volunteers. The volunteers from OneAmerica have forged bonds throughout the years and these bonds have fostered a close knit community.


 “It is very special to see that so many of our volunteers take the opportunity to bring groups of friends and family and volunteer together.  We work with a great group of veteran and new volunteers and feel very blessed to work with each of them.”  -Rhonda Smith

Like many of the thousands of volunteers at the Mini-Marathon, OneAmerica volunteers line the track to pass out Gatorade or water for the participants.  They take pleasure in energizing runners and walkers by giving them the replenishment their bodies need to go the distance. This group also thrives on offering motivation, words of encouragement, and humor for participants.


 “We try to make it fun for the runners and walkers.  Our stations wear anything from crazy hats, mustaches, to superhero capes and masks.” –Rhonda Smith


OneAmerica volunteers have made volunteering at the Mini-Marathon a team building experience that is fun and engaging.  They take pride in their support of the 500 Festival’s largest fundraiser, and each year they strive to make their involvement memorable.

Volunteers at Mini-Marathon have an enormous impact on the outcome of the event, so as you make your way along the 13.1 mile course be sure to show gratitude for them and their hard work!

For more information on volunteering for this year’s 40th OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, please click here.

My #IndyMini Story: Caren Bond

According to, when a person smokes, damage is caused to nearly every organ of the body including the lungs, muscles, and heart. Smokers also have an increased risk of illnesses such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, as well as a reportedly higher incidence of shortness of breath and cough.

Caren Bond knows the severe damage that cigarette smoking can cause, personally. Her #IndyMini story is about overcoming an addiction to cigarettes. The willpower and perseverance it took to quit, and how she’s now living a longer, happier, and healthier life!


Around the time her father-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer six years ago, Caren decided to quit smoking and make changes to get healthy. Being a two pack a day smoker, this was not an easy undertaking for her. But, she wholeheartedly wanted to get healthy, so she quit smoking and started exercising.

Her goal to get healthy led to a desire to start running, and with the support of her father-in-law combined with encouragement from her sisters, she did just that. She began running a mile at a time and before long she was adding more and more distance. In very little time, she was ready to run the One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon.

After kicking a powerful addiction and sticking to her goal of improving her health, Caren felt that a celebration was in order. She got a group of friends together to run with her in the #IndyMini in a triumphant fashion.


“We wear fun outfits for the Mini. We celebrate us, our city, and we celebrate the Mini!” Bond said.


She regards her decision to get healthy and start running as a dramatic life changing journey. Since her first Indy Mini experience, Caren has run several half marathons and multiple full marathons. In addition to running the Indy Mini, Caren plans to run the Boston Marathon this year too!

When you see Caren Bond running the Mini Marathon this year, make sure to celebrate her successes with her and don’t forget to congratulate her for the strides that she has taken to be healthier.

My #IndyMini Story: Rob and Ryan Rueff

I’ve always wanted to run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, but knew I wanted to make the first time I ran it a special memory.

Last March my 13-year-old son, Ryan, began running with me. You see, Ryan was diagnosed with autism when he was 18-months old. Team sports had been difficult for him, but we quickly found that running was a place where autism didn’t matter.

After a couple of months of running and completing his first 5k, we signed up for the Mill Race Half Marathon last September. We completed the race in 2:06:06, and that’s where our journey to the Mini-Marathon began!


Ryan has always enjoyed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and watching the Indianapolis 500. After we finished a run last year on the day of the Mini-Marathon, I had him watch the beginning of the race on television. I looked at him and asked, “Ryan, would you like to run that race some day? Would you like to run around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the cars race?”

Ryan cracked a smile at me and replied, “Dad, I think we’d lose each other,” as we watched the mass of more than 30,000 runners take off on the course.

My biggest fear with Ryan when I signed us up for his first 5k and then the Mill Race Half Marathon was how he would handle the crowd at the beginning. Would he be able to keep his concentration for the entire distance?

He passed both of those tests back in October during the Mill Race Half Marathon, so I signed us up for the Mini-Marathon. I also signed us up for the 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy, to give him a few more chances to race with a larger group prior to running with more than 35,000 of our closest friends on May 7.


When we trained for the Mill Race Half Marathon last year my main goal was to run the miles, get to the start line injury free, and finish strong. With the counseling of former Greenwood High School Track Coach Tad Frahm, Center Grove Cross Country Coach Howard Harrell, and Coach Jenny Hadfield, I devised a training plan which added speed workouts and hill repeats.

We don’t have a time goal for the Mini-Marathon this year. We plan to use this training cycle, the Miler Series, and the Indy Mini to develop a solid plan to break two hours or even faster when we race at the Mill Race Half Marathon again in September.

Ryan has gained valuable support and encouragement throughout the running community in Central Indiana. When we run races, go to fun runs at local running stores, or we’re forced indoors to run at the Mount Pleasant Church gym, people are constantly complimenting him on his form and determination.

As evidence of Ryan’s fortitude, he has cut five minutes off his 5k time since last May from 27:54 to 22:52 in a race on New Year’s Day.


Ryan’s remarkable running journey will add a chapter by kissing the bricks at IMS and finishing our first Indy Mini this May. Oh yeah, and getting passed at some point by Meb Keflezighi.

That’s definitely something to make anyone’s first Indy Mini special!


My #IndyMini Story: Brett Braunecker

In 2014, I was the heaviest I had ever been. This was an extremely difficult time for me because I always considered myself a fitness enthusiast and took care of my health. The weight crept up over time, mostly because of stress, poor eating, and inactivity due to multiple knee surgeries. I was 75lbs overweight and desperate for a change, but I struggled to make a plan and stick with it.

The turning point for me came when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and she began the fight for her life. Watching her battle to maintain her health through chemotherapy treatments, I realized how horribly I was treating my own body. My mom’s tenacity was the motivation I needed to take control of my health and start making changes.


It seems silly to say now, but I never considered myself a “runner”. I was discouraged by knee surgeries and what I thought was lack of natural ability. But, when I changed my eating and exercise habits my confidence soared, so I decided to give running a try. Stepping out of my comfort zone paid off; by August 2014 I lost all of the extra weight that I was carrying around.

My mom gave me more than just the purpose to begin my weight loss journey. She was my biggest supporter, and was behind me from the start. Watching her strength and perseverance through illness inspired me to push beyond my limits and accomplish my goals.

In 2015, I made a goal to run my first half marathon. I decided to run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in honor of my mom. Unfortunately, my mom passed away in February of that year, so she was not there to meet me at the end, but I was not alone.  In an emotional moment, my wife, kids, and friends surprised me at the finish line cheering with cowbells and wearing custom t-shirts.


My mom’s legacy is the reason I run the #IndyMini , and this year my brother is coming in from Missouri to run in honor of her too. My goal is to finish the Indy Mini in under 1:50:00 to achieve a personal best. I want to give my best for my mom who never gave me any less!


My #IndyMini Story: Mary Ann and Dan Davis

Running a half marathon race requires runners to push themselves, often in ways they never imagined. Dan Davis not only pushes himself to run the distance, but he also pushes his mother Mary Ann along with him. Dan and Mary Ann’s #WhyIMini story is one about a son’s untiring love for his mother and the possibilities of pursuing one’s dreams no matter how impossible they seem.

It all began 3 years ago when Dan asked his mother to run the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon with him. Mary Ann knew that her son had an indescribable passion for running in the Indy Mini, and she desperately wanted to be a part of the experience. However, this seemed impossible to Mary Ann whose health prevented her from walking most distances, let alone running a half marathon.

Mary Ann 1

Dan did not let his mother’s health circumstances keep him from getting her to race with him. Instead, he came up with a plan to help her keep the pace. He spent countless hours in his garage modifying a double stroller to create a vehicle in which his mother could comfortably sit while he pushed her through the race. He also wanted to make sure that his mother rode in style, so he painted the vehicle in her favorite shade of pink, and he fashioned the seat with checkered flag print fabric.

When race day came, Mary Ann was full of joy and pride for what her son had done for her, but she did not expect the reactions that she and Dan received from other race participants. She was taken aback by the support of other runners and walkers as they cheered her son on with applause and words of encouragement. She smiled the whole way through the race, raising her arms, clenching her fists and shaking them in delight.

Mary Ann 2

Feeling uplifted by the other runners and walkers in the Mini-Marathon, Dan ran faster in his final mile than he did in the first. When the finish was in sight, Dan stopped running unexpectedly. He walked to the front of his mother’s cart and helped her stand. With her son’s support, Mary Ann crossed the finish line and completed the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon with an impressive time of 1:46. She beamed as she rang the PR bell.

Mary Ann 3

Dan and Mary Ann have already registered for the 2016 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, so make sure to show support when you see them on May 7!