A tribute to April

Published 9:25 pm Saturday, July 11, 2009

At the finish line of the April Sorensen Memorial Half-Marathon was her husband, Josh, handing out medals to the finishers. It was his way of thanking the participants for their support.

“I thank them for running the race and they thank me for putting the race on,” he said.

It’s a simple gesture, but it’s one that allows Sorensen to cope with the loss of his wife as friends and family cross the finish line in support of him and April.

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“I give him a lot of credit for just being able to do that too,” said Melissa Wasmoen, April’s first cousin. “I think it’s a good feeling for him to know that all these people support him.”

April was killed in her home in Rochester on April 17, 2007. The investigation of her murder continues as there have been no suspects found.

It was a day of mixed emotions for Josh as he stood at the finish line throughout the morning.

“It’s hard for all of us to come out here and do this, but it’s kind of a living memory for April,” he said.

The day also served as a reminder for Josh as many close friends and family members attended the second annual half marathon.

“It’s a reminder to all of us that we need to love each other, tell each other you love each other and be around each other,” Josh said.

The half marathon is a tribute to April, who ran many marathons with her father, Jon Larson, and sister, Holly Larson. Together the three completed three marathons and a number of smaller races.

About 250 people signed up for this year’s event and many others volunteered their time along the route or at the finish line. The second time around ran even smoother than the first as runners were pleased with amount of volunteers throughout the course.

Ben Merchant, of Minneapolis, won the race with a time of just under 1 hour, 9 minutes. Merchant beat out last year’s winner Josh Schoen by fewer than 10 seconds.

“It’s definitely a tribute to April,” Wasmoen said. “April’s my first cousin and I just wanted to run for her. All these people showing up to run is a wonderful thing.”

April grew up in Hayward and graduated from Albert Lea High School so the 13.1 mile event linked the two towns with the marathon beginning in Albert Lea.

The support from the community has been overwhelming for April’s father and helped to deal with the tragic loss.

“It’s gives us satisfaction to get something positive out of the negative that happened,” Larson said “It’s nice to see people happy and enjoy something.”

April brought a smile to many people’s faces and the half marathon has continued to make that happen as each runner crosses the finish line.

“She just ran for the fun of it and that’s what I try to remember,” Wasmoen said.

The money raised from the event goes toward two $500 scholarships to the Albert Lea, Alden-Conger, and Glenville-Emmons school districts, along with helping to fund the Blazing Star Trail.

The first place male and female finishers were awarded $500 while the second place finishers earned $250 and third place took home $100. New this year were relay teams with a coed, male, and female division. Each winner received $100.

While the event benefits others, it serves another purpose in that it helps keep April’s murder in the minds of people as police continue their investigation to find the killer.

“That’s another reason why we do the half marathon is to get her name back out there again so people keep it in the front of their minds and hoping somebody is going to come forward with some information that is going to lead to an arrest,” Josh said. “I’m confident that they will find someone.”