Hunger finishes last at inaugural pantry benefit run

Photo by Dave Gorgon

Photo by Dave Gorgon

Eventual winner Aaron Moore (right) gets a fast start June 27 in the first Happy Soles 5K Run and Walk.

TAYLOR — As a Boy Scout with Troop 815 at St. Alfred Parish, Aaron Moore remembers volunteering to sort food items at the Gleaners Food Bank on North Line Road, which supplies products to the Fish & Loaves Community Food Pantry next door.

On June 27, Moore earned a plaque and a medal not for being a good Scout, but for winning the first Happy Soles 5K Run and Walk, an event that raised thousands of dollars to feed the hungry.

Moore, 17, literally ran away with the event that started and finished in Heritage Park. He jetted away from the pack at the start and finished in 18 minutes, 12.7 seconds — nearly 1:17 ahead of runner-up Masayoshi Ichihara, 41, of Canton Township. Moore averaged 5:52 per mile.

Not that Moore is a stranger to running. Until his recent graduation from Divine Child High School, he competed as a member of the school’s track and field team. After running the mile, two-mile and 800-meter events for the Falcons during the regular season, he joined teammates in the 3,200-meter relay in the Class B state finals in June.

Moore will continue running as a freshman at Grand Valley State University.

“My mom found a poster for this race,” he said. “I needed to get into shape for college next year.” The victory was a nice bonus, he said.

The first-time Happy Soles marked the start of the summer running season in the Downriver area. The race was set up as a fundraiser for Fish & Loaves, which provides food year-round to hungry people in Taylor and five surrounding communities.

Males and females competed together — and men had the five fastest times. Ichihara, the overall masters winner, was the only other runner to finish in less than 20 minutes (19:29.1).

Rounding out the top five were 43-year-old Irani Hassan (20:35.6), 14-year-old Blake Harrity (21:17.7) and another 17-year-old Taylor resident, Robert Fountain (21:36.5).

Melissa Armatis of Wyandotte was the overall female winner and took sixth among all runners in 22:29.7.

Armatis, 36, is vice president of operations for Daly Merritt Inc., a Wyandotte-based insurance company. She said she trains at Fighting Fit, a Wyandotte gym, but that the Happy Soles 5K was only her third competitive race — and her first win.

Armatis said she plans to enter the next 5K in Taylor’s Heritage Park, the Rollie Hopgood Midtown Taylor 5K Run/Walk on July 10.

Rounding out the Happy Soles top 10 were 20-year-old Kelsey Bartoloni of Southgate (23:02.1), 53-year-old Mark Marcucilli of Brownstown Township (23:03.8), 14-year-old Jordan Powell (23:33.8) and 34-year-old Jason Peer (23:48.3).

For more information on Fish & Loaves, go to For more information on the Rollie Hopgood Midtown Taylor 5K, go to