JOPLIN, Mo. — Ever since the 2011 tornado hit Joplin, Chicago native Frank Luby has made sure to return every year to participate in the Joplin Memorial Run.
It’s all because of the people he met 10 years ago coming to clean up from the aftermath of the EF-5 tornado.
“He came back to help clean up after that,” said Bob Brown, Joplin Memorial Run committee member. “And he just saw the spirit of Joplin.”
Before the tornado hit, Luby was signed up for the then “Boomtown Run.”
Once the tornado cancelled it, he decided to come to Joplin anyway.
“Just seeing the aftermath of the tornado and seeing all the segments of people helping and the extent of the devastation,” Luby said. “I took the decision to come down in July and I never stopped coming back.”
“Once we started the Joplin Memorial Run, then he’s come back every year since,” Brown said. “I met him at the hotel one evening and just asked him where he was from and he told me his story that we inspire him.”
While he loves coming back to run in honor of those who lost their lives, it was the affection of the community when he was cleaning up from the aftermath that draws him back.
“There was a lot of, if I were to sum it up in one word, it was just thankfulness and appreciation,” Luby said. “I’m getting choked up now a little bit. The surprise, I think, the number’s 50,000 or something like that, people all over the world would come down, more people that actually live there.”
While Luby said there was a lot of thankfulness in the air when in Joplin cleaning up, Brown adds they are thankful to have this run.
“We’re just so happy and proud to present this to the Four State area — Joplin specific,” Brown said. “But for all of those other people around the country that come to this.”
Brown said they’ll always see anywhere from 17 to 20 people come and represent another state at the run.
This year’s run will be taking place Saturday, May 22, at Cunningham Park.