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Honoring Fallen Kalamazoo Officer Eric Zapata: Annual EZ5K Memorial Run/Walk and EZ Ale

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (April 19, 2014) – The third Annual Eric Zapata Memorial 5k Run/Walk kicked off Saturday at 9a.m. at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC). The community honored fallen Kalamazoo Public Safety Officer Eric “EZ” Zapata, who was killed in the line of duty on April 18, 2011.

“He loved life, and he loved people, and he loved his job,” said Connie Bernal, mother of Eric Zapata.

More than 750 people crossed the finish line in the third Annual Eric Zapata 5K Memorial Run/Walk to pay tribute to fallen Kalamazoo Officer Eric “EZ” Zapata. Participants included his daughter, Alexis Doesburg, who ran the EZ5K for the first time, with her husband and seventh-month-old son in tow.

Alexis says this event is right up her father’s alley.

“He was very sarcastic and funny, loving and friendly and very athletic. If he was here, he would have run this thing three times already,” said Alexis.

Eric’s family, including his 85-year-old Great-Uncle Paul, walked in his name. They said Eric was the kind of person who made time and cared for everyone.

“This event is such an honor. My son did not like being thanked for things that he thought he should do, he thought that was his duty: that God put him here on Earth to help and serve and find good in people,” said Connie.

Eric’s mother, Connie, calls his colleagues and all of those who attended angels. The EZ5K Memorial Run/Walk raises money for the EZ Memorial Foundation. The Foundations’ funds provide scholarships for students in the police academy and training for in-service officers. The EZ Memorial Foundation said about $20,000 this year alone will go towards in-service officer training in the Kalamazoo area.

“When Eric’s mom shows up with his family, she looks around and she smiles and sees everybody, and her colleagues of Eric tell his mom the stories she hasn’t heard and she smiles and laughs, that’s where I get all my pleasure from,” said Craig Stouffer, Kalamazoo Public Safety officer and vice president of EZ Memorial Foundation.

Then after years of crafting, EZ Ale was released at the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange; created by Zapata’s coworkers, Boatyard Brewing Company and Imperial Beverage.

“It’s an easy drinking summer wheat ale with hints of coriander and orange zest, 6.5 percent. It is an easy drinking beer. The flavor is great, cheers,” said Eric Fulkerson, beverage manager with Kalamazoo Beer Exchange.

EZ Ale is one of many toasts to an officer whose service goes beyond his time.

Until closing Saturday night, 25-percent of all proceeds from food and drinks at the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange will go towards the EZ Memorial Foundation.


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  • sadface

    Its not such an "easy" 5k when youre overweight. Well not fat but husky enough to be a difficult time trying to run. Or when the nintendo wi labels you as morbidly obese just because you look husky and just to prove to your girlfriend that your not such a fat that you go and run a 5k with her and couldnt even keep up just to finish an hour later with the run and then at the end her dog makes you look like a homeless man crossing the finish line.

  • connie Zapata Bernal

    I have been interview by many reporters but Diana Chicklas was the best . She made us feel right and home and she was enjoying the day, the people and the memorial. Thank you

    • danachicklas

      Thanks so much, Connie. It was great seeing you and your family again today at the Memorial Ride. Your son was one-of-a-kind.

      –Dana Chicklas

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