YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The 27th annual Mill Creek Distance Classic half marathon and 5K included a special tribute for Brittany Szwedko, the 27-year-old who passed away after being struck by a vehicle in Fowler Township.
Szwedko was training for the marathon on Ridge Road last weekend, when she was hit by a drunk driver who fled the scene.
“We hope they realize how many people are thinking about them,” said Rick Hart, the race director.
Szwedko’s sister, mother, brother and mother’s fiance all ran in Sunday’s race to honor her.
“She’ll never die in my heart. She’ll always be in my heart,” said her mother, Mary Kay.
“The community will never let her go, there’s so much love for her,” her mother’s fiance, Dan, said.
Jayna wore her sister’s race bib on her back. She says they were planning on running together.
“She’s had my back this whole entire race, and that’s what motivated me,” she said. “I feel like that is something she would have wanted me to do with every step that I took. Every mile I ran and every mile I went up, I feel like she was right next to me…I can feel her next to me and hear her voice pushing me through the finish line.”
“She better be pushing me, because she knows I don’t run,” said Szwedko’s brother, Nick. “I know I can suck it up for my sister.”
And he did, winning the 5K for his age group.
For Jayna, crossing the finish line was emotional. She received a medal for completing the half-marathon, and another for her sister.
Szwedko’s family members say she is the reason each of them crossed the finish line on Sunday.
“We’re honored because she died doing something she loved,” Mary Kay said. “She would just be honored.”