JOLIET – TM Martial Arts is hosting Theresa Lang’s second memorial 5K Sunday in honor of her 31st birthday.
Lang was killed in car accident in December 2011. The 5K walk/run starts and ends at Cemeno’s Pizza on Essington Road in Joliet.
Race director Bridget Wisz believes it’s a great time to bring together those who knew and loved her, to celebrate her life and travel the same scenic trails Lang used for her training.
As the second annual 5K arrives, the shock of the loss of Lang has worn off, but the memories, love and longing for Lang remain fresh.
“I am humbled to be able to organize this event in memory of one of the most amazing people I will ever know, who has brought to me some of the best people to ever know,” Wisz said. “I am eternally grateful to have her family support me. This is not possible without our volunteers and the many sponsors.”
Wisz anticipates having 250 to 300 runners and volunteers this year, and is thankful for all of the sponsors. To run the race and find more information about the race, visit www.signmeup.com/91553. To volunteer, contact Wisz at email@example.com or 815-260-2118. The cost to participate is $35.
“Theresa Lang had a zest for life. She lived life with enthusiasm and greeted everyone and everything with excitement,” Wisz said. “She was so multifaceted and had so many different interests she was passionate about. She learned how to combine her work, family, fun and leisure passions to give her the most amazing experiences in life.”
All ages and fitness levels are welcome to this certified and time-chipped event. Individuals can register in person from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at TM Martial Arts, or 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on race day.
TM Martial Arts honors her memory with all net proceeds of this year’s race benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. The WWP was selected as a great organization that TM Martial Arts has worked with in the past. Lang had participated in a previous fundraiser for the organization.
The Wounded Warrior Project’s mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors. Their purpose is to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured service members aid and assist each other and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members. It is everything Lang stood for.
Lang’s mother, Neda Wruk Zelehovitis, is grateful to everyone involved in the memorial run. She is thankful and said it is so important to many “to keep Theresa’s memory alive.”
Wisz said Lang not only understood the definition of family, but she carried that theme to every group she came in contact with. Whether it was theater, massage therapy, or martial arts and fitness, Lang lived life to the fullest.
Lang’s close friends, Nick Fagan and his wife, Carolyn, agreed that family was important to Lang. They chose her to be the godmother of their twins, Joseph Michael and Madelyn Irene, before their birth and before her death. However, they never had the chance to ask her. Still, they named her and only her as the twins’ godmother.
“To us, Theresa is their Godmother even though we never got the chance to ask her. There is no better person I would want the twins to be like or look up to,” Carolyn Fagan said. “She was a beautiful woman, inside and out. Theresa was a woman you want your daughter to be like and your son to bring home.”
The Fagans said they have talked a little bit to the twins, who are now over a year-old, about their Aunt Theresa, and soon are going to start showing them her beautiful pictures.
“I’m still trying to figure out how to tell my kids about her,” Nick said.” People should be more like she was; caring, giving, forgiving, just an amazing person. She taught me to respect myself more and always try to put others first. She was always there for everyone. I know, firsthand, she saved me from myself more than once.”
The twins were baptized Catholic, and Lang was a strong Catholic representative in her church.
“Theresa was a person who could guide the twins religiously and teach them to be a strong individuals. She was so genuine and well rounded,” Carolyn said. “Theresa was someone you always wanted around and she was like family to us. The qualities that Theresa possessed you don’t find in just anyone, especially nowadays. It’s so rare. We truly miss her. I know my twins see her and play with her. I just wish they would have had the chance to know her.”
“The twins make me wonder sometimes though. Do they see her? And what do they see? The randomness of how they act is a bit curious. What are they looking at? Who are they talking to?” said Nick. “The hardest thing is how badly I miss her; I go to visit whenever I can, though it’s not enough. I wish she was still here. There are still times I go to call her and that’s when it hits me.”
Wisz said she still misses Lang’s laughter, which was contagious.
“I think that we all learned to love life, treat others with kindness,” Wisz said. “You can accomplish anything and have fun doing it.”
Lang first joined TM Martial Arts in 2006 with her first of many self-defense courses. She then joined in the fitness program in March 2007, later joining the martial arts program where she studied Combat Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do. Lang found her calling with the JLFS kickboxing program, where she attained a first-degree black belt in November 2011.
“Those of us who were fortunate to know her in life remember her smile and fighting spirit,” Wisz said.
And that’s what Wisz wants everyone to bring Sunday on Lang’s 31st birthday; their winning smile and fighting spirit, just like Lang’s.