El Paso

Family commemorates RJ Franco during Springfoot Marathon

Family commemorates RJ Franco during...

EL PASO, Texas - Streets across El Paso were shutdown on Sunday, and the main form of transportation was on foot. 

Hundreds participated in the Springfoot Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5K -- and one family chose to commemorate the life of a loved one during their trek. 

"I know that my nephew RJ was very athletic and I know that if he could have been with us, he would have been here with us shouting for us to finish," Maria Vasquez said. "We're doing it in his memory."

Rogelio "RJ" Franco, 22, was shot and killed outside of Barfly last month. Vasquez is Franco's aunt.

"When I was feeling a little tired I kept thinking about him, and it gave me the endurance," Vasquez said. 

Jesus and Maria Apodaca are also Franco's uncles. The Apodacas and Vasquez had shirts that read "In loving memory of RJ Franco."

"It was quite the run, a different kind of run." Jesus said. "It was hard for me to run the race but at the end, he gave me strength. I just asked him for his prayers." 

Crossing the finish line brought a sense of relief and peace. 

"Oh man I wanted to cry," Jesus said. "(It) was very satisfying. Even though I miss him, I know he's with me -- always with me."

Maria said she felt Franco's presence with each stride she took.

"Because of him, he gave me the endurance to keep on going," Maria said.

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