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      "Run for Rick" events planned to honor late former Harlingen mayor

      Footwear trends are the typical talk inside Footworks shoe store in Harlingen.

      "I was in disbelief," Rolando Vela, a customer said. "I couldn't believe it."

      But after Harlingen's former mayor Rick Rodriguez died Thursday, after he suffered from an apparent heart attack while jogging near the intersection of Tyler Avenue and 5th Street, the focus has shifted from feet to friendships.

      "It cuts people pretty deep," Joey Amaro, Footworks shoe tech said.

      Rolando Vela, a running enthusiast, shares fond memories about the 55-year-old who became mayor in 2004.

      He remembers recently telling Rick how proud he was to hear about his renewed fitness goals.

      "Rick was a very good friend of mine," Rolando said. "He was trying to get back in shape by walking or running. I needed to do something. I needed to finish the run, the walk that he started that morning."

      Rolando is part of a running club called "RuNsane."

      The 50 or so member team, with a focus on healthy living, will be doing a 17-mile run for Rick on Saturday at 6 a.m. starting outside Footworks on 2224 South 77 Sunshine Strip.

      Rolando says the run will personally help him to heal from the loss.

      "Honestly, I'll probably be crying because I'll be thinking about him and how I wish he was there," he said. "He's done so much for the community, for his family, his wife, his kids, for everybody. He was out there."

      Another community memorial walk/run will take place Monday at the Harlingen Country Club.

      It's the day Rick is set to be buried.

      "On Monday, RuNsane and Footworks are meeting at the Harlingen Country Club at 6 p.m. in the parking lot to do a run for Rick," Joey said.

      The whole community is invited to attend both events.

      "It doesn't matter if you run or walk," Joey explained. "It's about unity."

      They're two tributes for one man whose memory will undoubtedly live on.

      Funeral arrangements for Rick Rodriguez are being handled by Trinity Funeral Home in Harlingen on 1002 E. Harrison.

      Visitation will be on Sunday from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. with a rosary at 7 p.m.

      The Funeral Mass will be Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Anthony's Catholic Church on 209 S. 10th Street in Harlingen.

      Burial will follow at Heavenly Grace Memorial Park in La Feria.

      In Lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations be made to St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Harlingen.

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