Interview courtesy Time Sentinel / Haysville Sun / Star Argosy newspaper
Haysville Resident runs to grieve, honor family.
by Sam Jack – The Times Sentinel
HAYSVILLE – Starting in summer 2018, Haysville resident Rolando “Rolo” Romero and his family were beset by tragedy.
“My grandfather was dealing with cancer, and he ended up passing away that summer,” Romero said. “While we were in that process, my mom’s hip started hurting. She ended up having cancer and passed away three months later. Literally the same week my mom found out about her cancer, my wife’s mom found out she had pancreatic cancer. She ended up passing away eight to 10 months later than my mom did.”
“It was just, ‘Bam, bam, bam.’ After a while, we didn’t even know what was going on. It was just shock.”
Romero, his wife, Rachelle, and their three children, lost eight family members in less than 10 months.
For Romero, it was hard to know what to do or how to carry on after his mother’s death. One thing he did was have her deathbed request.
“She Said, “I just want you to do some things for me. I want you to quit smoking, I really want you to get healthy,” Romero said.
Those words were on his mind when he saw a local 5K race in Haysville.
“Carol, my mother in law, was on her last wings and I was like, ‘Alright, its only three miles. I can say I did this for my mom and maybe my mother-in-law will get a kick out of it and kind of raise her spirits. So I signed up just for the heck of it. I didn’t train or anything; I just went for it,” he said.
That first 5K was difficult, both physically and emotionally. But Romero found that running helped him, and went on to make it a regular part of his life. He now runs an average of 20 miles a week, and he completed races in honor of all eight of his relatives who died.
“The first eight that I did for these people – you can feel the strength. I can remember their last months of life, and think, “This is not anything,” he said.
May 29 will also mark a year since Romero quit smoking. He has also lost weight, and he is in better shape now than he has been in a number of years, he said.
Pushing for positivity does not make the sadness go away, Romero acknowledged.
“You can just feel the those holes, especially during the holidays and birthdays,” he said. “Almost like what’s going on the world right now: It’s a new norm. So what do you do about the things going around us?”
Last year, Romero and his wife launched a website, www.runrolorun.com, where he writes reflections on each “honor race” and shares links for resources for those struggling with issues such as addiction, grief, and illness. He recently started selling wristbands, with proceeds going to COVID-19 relief.
“We just hope that we can grow this into helping other people out, maybe getting people to realize that everyone goes through things – but look at these guys, they did it in a whole new way. They tried to do positive things for the community, and just show honor,” he said.