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Road Warrior Team

2018 Road Warrior Team

A very special welcome to the 2018 Fifth Third River Bank Run Road Warriors -- Adam L, Adam Z, Carolyn, Ellen, Hannah, Jenny, Patrick, Rob, Robert, Stephanie, Steve, Susan  and Tammy -- coached by Joann Karpowicz and Amy Polega!   Personal photos and bios will be posted early December where you can get to know them and the coaches.  Join them at all the Fifth Third River Bank Run Training Runs (see side bar) and at the line on Saturday, May 12.


Coaches Joann and Amy


Our running adventure… how it all began… (read more)




Adam Lewis


I am Adam Lewis and have applied to be a Road Warrior two times over the years and I finally made the team.  As a Road Warrior, I plan to motivate and inspire my friends (and others) to be more healthy and active.  And maybe they will listen to me since I now have the official title .. LOL!

I plan to run the 5K/10K events on race day.  I do not call myself a runner, I usually say that I wobble with a purpose. A few years ago, I hurt my back, got out of shape and look forward to getting back at it with the help of Joann and Amy (coaches) and support of the rest of the team.   Please feel free to stop by and chat and/or run with me at any of the River Bank Run's FREE training events (see sidebar for dates/locations).   I will do my best to motivate and encourage you with your training or atleast make you smile!   My charity partner is Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.


Adam Zimmerman


I am first and foremost a husband and father that loves to run. Running has always been something that has been very therapeutic for me. A few years ago, my brother challenged me to run a half marathon with him. At the time, I had never ran more than a 5k but I let him talk me into it. After finishing my first half marathon, I loved the sense of accomplishment I felt when I was done. So I signed up for the River Bank Run the next spring. After finishing the 25k in 2015, my wife and I found out that we were going to have our first child and running got put on the back burner. After taking the last two years off of running, I decided it time to get back out there and get healthy again with the help of two coaches and to be a part of the Road Warrior team.  Wedgwood Christian Services is my River Bank Run charity partner - visit their page to see what you can win when you fundraise for them.

Carolyn Clayton


Hi! I’m Carolyn Clayton, and I’m honored to be a 2018 Road Warrior for the Fifth Third River Bank Run!  I applied to be a warrior because I resonate with the word warrior - I am an overcomer.  Four years ago, I experienced my first miscarriage after the healthy and uneventful birth of my daughter who is now 6.  I went on to have three more (4 total) and have found my way back to a healthy lifestyle through the anger, anxiety and depression that have come because of the grief.  Just weeks after my last miscarriage in April of 2017, a good friend pointed out to me that I had to take care of myself and encouraged me to put a race on the calendar and challenge myself.  In August of 2017, I completed a sprint triathlon for the first time in nine years.  I found it very empowering that the body that let me down on so many levels was able to do something productive and effective.  After the completion of that race, I took an inventory of my life and although I felt the depth of the pain, sadness and grief, I was moving through it and taking on life with it.  Taking care of my physical fitness has enabled me to be a better wife, mother, friend, colleague and human.  I am running and raising funds for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.

Ellen Bacca


I am a Meteorologist on WOOD TV and just recently got into running to stay healthy and push my limits. I began running long distances in 2016 to raise money for the Special Olympics. While training, realized running is a great way to stay positive and maintain good mental health.  I am proud to be a part of the Road Warrior team!

Hannah Kinzler


My name is Hannah Kinzler and I am 17 years old. I am a junior at Grandville High school and an active member of several clubs such as Woman's Athletic Leadership, Be Nice (my charity partner that I will run for) and Peer to Peer. I compete in track and field and on Sundays I teach preschool at church. This will be my second time running the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25k.  My dad, Jason Kinzler, passed away, while running this race, on May 14, 2011, one mile from the finish line. I carry him with me through this journey. Every step…every mile. I run for him.

Jenny Kuhtz


I thought I knew everything about fitness. I never thought I’d gain close to 100 pounds! Not with having my degree in Exercise Science, being a former personal trainer and group exercise instructor. No. That would never happen to me. I’ve run lots of races, full marathons .. three of them to be exact!  I've run the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K and my husband stayed with me the first time (which is nice of him, because I am SLOW). I was fit. I was happy. I felt like I “belonged”.  Six years ago, I was pregnant with my first daughter and teaching group fitness classes until I was 7/8 months along. Through the pregnancy, I gained close to 100 pounds!! (I am still in shock and disgusted with myself).  Each month, I would gain almost 10 pounds! I literally would look at food and gain weight. After I had my daughter, I chose to be a stay at home mom, which I LOVE, but I lost myself. I gave up on myself. I felt fat and alone. I thought this what I was “suppose” to be and didn’t think I could get the fit part or my drive and motivation back. 

I lost some weight, but I was not feeling “right”.  A doctor found a dermoid cyst on my left ovary and some endometriosis.  I had it taken care of, but it played with my mentality and continued to make me feel down and unmotivated.  Two years ago, I was pregnant with our second daughter and again gained some weight but thankfully not as much as the first time around.  My focus has been to lose weight and get back into running and fitness.  I was making great strides but in April I fell down a few stairs and fractured my left foot/ankle.  And, gained 25 pounds due to not being able to work out and of course eating .. I do love food, who doesn’t?  My foot is healing and I am getting back to what I use to do and who I was to be fitness wise. I miss the “fit” me. I was so driven and so motivated. I know what it feels like to lose all hope, think you can’t change and to hate what you see in the mirror.  The thing I miss most about working in fitness is motivating/inspiring others to reach their fitness goals and to believe in themselves.  My goal is to do this as a Road Warrior.  You don’t have to be fast, or thin - just try.  The first step is always the hardest.

Running has always and will be my peace, my happy place. I may have lost that for a while, but I am getting it back. I may not be fast and may take walking breaks, but I know that running is my missing “Jen” piece.   Please see Kids Hope USA's webpage, my charity partner, to learn what you can receive when you fundraise for them. 

Patrick Dischinger


I am from the small farming town of Marlette, MI. Growing up on a farm, I am no stranger to hard work. This might explain why I am excited to train for this years 25k as a Road Warrior! 

I am a recent graduate from Ferris State University with a major in Molecular Diagnostics. Just after graduation I got a job in Grand Rapids where I met, at the time Road Warrior, Natalie who got me involved in running and cycling. Her passion and desire for training to compete in triathlons rubbed off on me. I trained and competed in last years Reed’s Lake sprinter triathlon. Completing that race gave me a great sense of accomplishment and a drive to set out and discover what else I can accomplish.  

I will be running and fundraising for Conductive Learning Center - children with motor disorders learn to become confident, active and self-reliant individuals.  Check out their webpage for the awesome perks you get when you fundraise for them.



Rob Knecht


My name is Rob Knecht and I am a Michigander!  I have spent my whole life in the Grand Rapids/Holland area and love all things Michigan, running and triathlon.  My history with Old Kent and Fifth Third dates back to my mom getting a job at Old Kent (the location in Breton Village for all you 616ers reading this) and she still works for Fifth Third!  I participated in the 5k back in the late 90's and have completed the 10k and the 25k multiple times.  My goal for the race every year is VERY simple: as my age climbs, I am very happy to just be one second better than the year before.  I look forward to serving as a Fifth Third Road Warrior for 2018 and becoming the best ambassador of the race that I can be!  If we cross paths in GR somewhere, please stop and tell me your most recent running accomplishment!"    I am running for Kids Hope USA, take a moment and check out their webpage and how you can fundraise for them.

Robert Woldhuis


My name is Robert "TuTuMan" Woldhuis, I am 41 years old and live in Wyoming, Mi.  Three years ago, a friend challenged me to start getting healthier by adding some cardio/running to my workout routine. I weighed around 260 pounds and had problems running a half mile when I first started. But I stuck with it and now in 2017, I have ran in 29 half marathons, 4 marathons, a 50k trail and a 50 mile ultramarathon road race, as well as numerous other races and have lost around 70 pounds doing it! Running has also been a big part of my recovery for the past seven years from drug addiction. Not only is this a healthy habit that has replaced many other negative ones, I have also found a sense of community among the runners that I have gotten to know over the past three years. And, the tutu? That's just to get you to laugh, smile, and remember to not take life so seriously. It's also a good reminder for me that no matter what has happened in your past, it doesn't have to define your future. 

The River Bank Run 25K is a special race to me because it is the first big race that I ever did! It is also the furthest distance I had done and it proved to myself that my body was capable of more than I thought it was. It is an honor to be on the 2018 Road Warrior Team and I look forward to an exciting and memorable race!  My River Bank Run charity partner is Wedgewood Christian Services, you can win a full auto detailing package (performed by Wedgwood kids in the Employee Training Program) when you fundraise for them! 


Stephanie Cornwell


As an asthmatic from birth, I never thought I could participate in sports.  In 2012, I decided to give running a try…making small goals and trying to push through asthma.  Within four months, with the help of a neighbor, I was up to double digits and talking the entire time!  Six months later, I ran my first race, the Bayshore Marathon!  Fast forward to 2015.  I was determined to qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon.  It would be the 120th anniversary as well as the 50th year since women could run it.  It took four marathons and the help of my pulmonologist to finally get me to my goal in 2015!   I was on top of the world and so excited that I amped up my training. My kids were so excited for me and even ran with me the last ¼ mile to that qualifying finish line!! Nothing could stop me, I was tapping into the potential I only dreamt of!  My eyes were set on April 18, 2016, the best year ever!  I had saved up for family vacation to Disney the beginning of January, where I would complete the Dopey Challenge (4 days of races, totally 48.6 miles).  Who knew what challenges would come during that time.  I would lose my 27-year-old brother three months after my qualifying race to natural causes, and three months after that get diagnosed with breast cancer. My world was flipped upside down.  My oncology team wasn't sure if they were going to allow me to run due to the aggressive and invasive cancer in my body.  They were unsure if I could wait that long to start chemotherapy.  Long story short, they allowed me to run Boston!  This was my chance to show myself and others with a disease or disability that it is possible to do what you love, no matter what the obstacle.  By the way, Boston was magical and I ran my fastest marathon there which qualified me for 2017!   Unfortunately, I wasn't well enough to even walk Boston 2017 and have had many complications along the way.  Beside the physical challenges, this journey has been a very emotional one for me to say the least.  My outlet has always been being active then running since I discovered I could do it in 2012.   

I am a single mother, I work full-time, and I've been a homeowner my entire adult life as well as put myself through college (graduating with in 2011).  I believe I can be a positive role model for many.  Ironically, I’ve been participating in Susan G. Komen events since 2007, raising nearly $10,000 for the cause, just because.  I was a Girls on the Run coach at the time of my diagnosis. The girls (my 5th grade team of which I knew none of them before volunteering) wanted me to continue to be there coach and accept me through treatment.  My daughter helped me coach when I didn't feel well and I was able to participate (bald) with my girls on race day. Holding their hands while crossing the finish line was like and angel hugging my heart.  To them, I was their coach and helped them.  To me, it was much bigger.  I don't know what I would have done without the support of my team.  My running family/community, amazing friends, family, and especially my two amazing children deserve all the praise. I wouldn’t be me without them. I'd love the opportunity to share my story and journey of rebuilding my strength and courage to get back to what I love and overcome life's challenges. 

My hope is to inspire through this journey and be inspired!  I had a major surgery on December 7th (latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction) and will rebound and still complete the River Bank Run 25k!  I am hoping to be a positive role model and example that no matter what the challenge, we can overcome them to some degree and meet our goals.  I’m excited to share my story and engage with the community that I love.  Being a Road Warrior is a blessing to me and I want to be a blessing to others through this.   Please consider raising funds along with me for my charity partner, Meals on Wheels-Western Michigan.  

Steve Day


I will be working hard to earn the West Michigan Endurance Challenge award in 2018.  Being part of the Road Warrior team will help me achieve the first leg of that challenge.  And with that, I hope to continue to inspire others that anything is possible. I got back into running a few years ago, and in that time I have talked to several people who have seen what I've accomplished and gone out to set goals for themselves. Some simply wanted to start getting active again, while others started pushing for personal bests. I'd like to continue showing friends and family that they too can enjoy an active lifestyle, regardless of natural talent.  

On May 12, 2018, I want to run a smart, tactical race and finish in under three hours. As a stretch goal, I would like to push myself to finish in under 2:45:00. That stretch goal is slightly faster than my half marathon PR pace.   Plus, I will be fundraising for my charity partner, be nice, along with fellow Road Warrior Hannah.   Join us to be nice. it is more than a phrase. It's an Action Plan and an acronym to notice, invite, challenge, and empower. If you live by the be nice. Action Plan and implement it into your daily life, you can create a better environment for someone struggling with their mental health and ultimately save a life.

Sue Waddell


I have been a runner over half my life, 38+ years.  Running was more than lacing up a pair of shoes and putting one foot in front of the other.  Running meant socialization and making lifelong friends, salve for emotional wounds, stress release, problem solving, friendly competition, joy and happiness, and even served as my Sunday church service.  For whatever reason, about three years ago, running started meaning nothing but drudgery and dread.  I still cannot not put my finger on the reason.  Burn out?  Loss of running partners?  Disinterest?  When I turned 60, I decided that year would be my last River Bank Run 25K – and it would be my 35th consecutive.  I even had a specially made t-shirt with the backside reading, “35 Swan Song.”  I did not enjoy that River Bank Run at all and did not feel any regret about my decision.  But something inside nagged me to keep running.  Oh, I hated the runs and got no satisfaction from them. 

Last year was the 40th anniversary of the River Bank Run and I toyed with the idea of running it.  I trained for it – alone. Those long runs on Saturday were miserable and I felt sick each time I ran them.  But I kept plugging along.  I did not register for the race and decided I would run the 25K course with the GR Running Club Mentor Group.  The Mentor Group runs the course a couple of weeks before actual race day.  If I felt good after the training run, I would register for the River Bank Run.  Well, the training run was dismal and I did not register for the race.  I let the 40th year anniversary slip between my fingers.  

My goal as a Road Warrior is to recapture the magic of running and share it with others who think like me.  There really is nothing like running and I want to be excited about it again and show others that it is FUN.  We have a diverse group of Road Warriors from all walks of life and I look forward to getting to know them, their stories and how we all can be great ambassadors for the Fifth Third River Bank Run.  My personal goal is to finish in 2:24.  That is the finish time of my first River Bank Run.  I I feel honored and humbled and want others to see that it is possible to come back to running along with fundraising for my charity partner, Conductive Learning Center.

Tammy Hellem


I want to inspire others while at the same time pushing myself to do the best I can.  I am a single mother to three grown children and I am a Grammy of two little ones.  I want to show my family, friends and others that anything is possible. You can achieve anything you set yourself up to do.  I am a super positive person and I try to encourage everyone around me to be so as well. 

I have been running for just over two years and Iook forward to beinging a race ambassador at running events by socializing and inspiring others.  I have completed several 5k run/walks a few 10k’s, two half marathons and in 2017 my first 25k Fifth Third River Bank Run.  I didn’t get an official time because it took me too long but I did finish.  There truly is a party in the back of the pack, I seriously enjoy being a part of that party and will share the fun of the party on race day as we make our way to the finish line.  Come run with me at the First Saturday of the Month Training Runs at the David D Hunting YMCA (8a) and enjoy the "party in the back" - it's a great time!  While we are running/walking, I will share my passion for Meals on Wheels-Western Michigan, my charity partner, and how you can join my fundraising team.



Fifth Third River Bank Run

PO Box 2194
Grand Rapids, MI  49501-2194
616.771.1590   |