At Greg "Ziggy" Zyszkiewicz's funeral at Christ Church in Bay View in March, the pastor challenged the large, grieving crowd to create a bucket list for Ziggy.
But this would be a different kind of bucket list. Instead of making individual goals, it would be a collective list of things to do together, and for one another.
"It was sort of a way to pay it forward and to spread the goodness in others," said Erica Lewandowski, who worked with Zyszkiewicz.
And so it began, first with an email suggestion by Jumaane Cheatham, who also worked with Zyszkiewicz at the Department of Neighborhood Services and then further coordination from Lewandowski: What if we run the Summerfest Rock 'n Sole in Zyszkiewicz's honor? Everyone knew he was an avid runner.
They hoped maybe they could get 20-30 people.
By Saturday morning, an estimated 130-150 people had come to Rock 'n Sole wearing "Ziggy Strong" T-shirts to run or walk together, or support those who were.
Among them was a pretty, soft-spoken woman taking part in her first Rock 'n Sole. Olha Zyszkiewicz was Greg's wife for more than 40 years, and when she crossed the finish line, she laughed and said: "I did that in an hour? I am going to have start walking more!"
And then: "I did it for him," unable to fight back tears.
Thousands of runners, "woggers" and walkers took part in the seventh annual Rock 'n Sole event at the Summerfest grounds on the lakefront. The race featured three distances – the half marathon, the quarter marathon and a 5K. It was a warm and windy trek over the Hoan Bridge but an otherwise glorious morning.
This run has become, for many, a symbolic time to kick off summer and the festival season. It is competitive for some and communal for others, but it's still a perfect occasion to pull together family and friends.
For Olha Zyszkiewicz – she usually goes by Ola – every step became a step toward the preservation of Greg's memory.
Zyszkiewicz was a city home inspector at Milwaukee's DNS for 34 years. In March, the 64-year old was found in his car near N. 23rd and Cherry streets at 2 p.m., shot to death in an attempted carjacking.
This tragedy is not how Ola wants Greg to be remembered. So that's why she walked for him Saturday.
"Just know what a great man Greg was. A caring, selfless, generous – he was just a good man. A really good man," she said.
He also was a runner. He did everything from the long distance runs at Disney to the Fight for Air Climb.
"And lots of local runs for charity and for fun," Lewandowski said. "The man would barely train – and he would go out and he would have these amazing runs."
Rondee Wellman, a customer service representative with DNS and Carolyn Wood, now retired, came out to do their first-ever 5K for Ziggy.
"Had to do it – in his honor. He would have done it for us," said Wellman, who worked with Ziggy for 28 years. "I felt like sharing this day with the family was a big deal."
Before the race, most of the group posed for a big picture at the entrance of Summerfest, people of all ages, from all backgrounds. They came up to Ola and gave her a warm hug. It was an emotional time, but there was also laughter.
"It was evident when we took that group photo the wide variety of people who had Greg in common," Lewandowski said. "Everyone recognized that Ziggy would really like this, for us to be together and be positive. Certainly his death was so senseless and tragic, but he would not want to be remembered that way."
A big group of people running together, wearing Superman-type logos on their shirts – that's more like it.
"It means a lot – they haven't forgotten Greg," Ola said. "It just means a lot.
The Ziggy runners had a great day for their Rock 'n Sole.
The route was well-marked, there were volunteers everywhere and 20 different entertainment groups filled the morning with music and cheering.
This year, race organizers put the 5K runners back on the Hoan Bridge after diverting those runners for a few years because of construction. That was good because mostly everyone who signs up for Rock 'n Sole wants to go up and over the 1.9-mile bridge that overlooks the festival grounds and Lake Michigan.
"What makes it so unique is we're the only race in the city allowed to use the Hoan Bridge," said Gaye Littell, executive producer at Summerfest. "UPAF is allowed to use it for a bike race but we're the only one allowed to run it so it's a pretty big distinguisher."
There was also a 1-mile kid's version of the Rock 'n Sole as part of a Kids Run to Read program.
The fun run is for children (ages 3-10) with proceeds to benefit SHARP Literacy and the Summerfest Foundation. Marquette University men's basketball coach Steve Wojciechowski and his wife, Lindsay, are co-chairs.
Wojciechowski, who cycles and does Bikram yoga to stay in shape, likes the run-to-read concept. He reads to his 9- and 7-year-old sons every night he's not working.
His oldest son Jack, 9, loves the Harry Potter books while youngest son Charlie, 7, enjoys reading about animals. They have run in the kid's race for three years.
"One of the things that's cool is the kids run through the same finish line as the adult racers run through," Wojciechowski said. "There's no question that having our kids be active like that, down on the Summerfest grounds, is really good. Being in athletics I know not only the importance of staying active – but what it can do mentally, physically, everything. That can last a lifetime. Obviously my basketball career ended a long time ago, but I still try to stay in shape and we want our kids to learn that lesson at a young age.
"And this is a great cause that supports a great program."