Megan Hammerle 5K hopes to attract participants from Zionsville


When runners cross the finish line at Lebanon High School May 11 during the 10th annual Megan Hammerle Memorial 5K, it will be another bittersweet day for the Hammerle family.

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Megan Hammerle ran cross country during her time at Lebanon High School. (Photo courtesy of Amy Hammerle)

A 2014 graduate of Lebanon High School, Megan Hammerle was home for winter break after her first semester at DePauw University when she developed a headache that wouldn’t go away. After more than six weeks of hospitalization, Megan passed Feb. 13, 2015, of histoplasma meningitis. She was 18 years old.

Megan’s mother Amy Hammerle said while her family’s grief felt unimaginable, Megan’s peers pulled together to do something for their lost friend.

“She still had a lot of friends who were in high school, and they knew that she liked to run, and they wanted to do something,” Hammerle said. “What they did was they decided to hold a 5K in Megan’s honor.”

In its inaugural year, the 5K raised more than $10,000, which went toward a scholarship in Megan’s name. In 2021, organizers joined with the Boone County Mentoring Partnership to allow funds raised from the 5K to benefit local youth.

Megan’s friends found several pieces of paper that Megan had drawn on and printed one of her doodles on the race t-shirts that first year, a tradition that continues every year. For the 10th annual event, the original doodle, one that Hammerle calls “Zen-tangled Dreams,” will appear on the shirts again.

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One of Megan’s doodles is featured on this year’s Megan Hammerle Memorial 5K t-shirt. (Photo courtesy of Amy Hammerle)

“She loved art, doodled all the time. Any paper of hers had a doodle on it, she loved to draw,” Hammerle said, adding that Megan was also a runner, a musician, a voracious reader and a youth leader. “She had a heart for service. She also was very active in our church youth group and would go on summer mission trips with our youth group team from Trinity Lutheran Church.”

The funds raised this year will help Boone County Mentoring Partnership with their mission to pair Boone County youth with adults who understand their needs. Executive Director Matt Wilson said that while mentoring is the core of Boone County Mentoring Partnership, there are also youth assistance and intervention programs which connect kids and families with resources in the community.

Race organizers are hoping this year’s event draws more runners from Boone County and beyond and inspires those runners from Zionsville and Whitestown to consider volunteering as a mentor with Boone County Mentoring Partnership.

“It’s three-fold: To remember and honor Megan; to come out and participate in the 5K and support our mission; and give it a shot to become a mentor,” Wilson said. “It’s four hours a month, about an hour a week.”

The organization serves about 100 youth annually, but Wilson said within Boone County there is a need for about 1,000 young people for this type of mentoring program each year.

The Hammerle family hopes that participants are inspired by Megan’s legacy, one where her friends described her as an introvert, but genuine.

“Their words were authentic, kind, weird in the best way,” Hammerle said. “I think that was the coolest thing about Megan, she wasn’t afraid to be different… She was a very humble, kind girl. She would like the running aspect, but I think she’s kind of up there laughing, ‘I can’t believe this is still going on 10 years later.’”

Wilson said that in addition to benefiting a worthwhile cause, the 5K also serves as a great recovery run for those who are participating in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon May 4.

This year’s event will also include entertainment, food and bounce houses. Dogs are also welcome to participate in the run.

“We want to just honor and celebrate Megan’s life and have some fun doing it,” Wilson said.

The 10th annual Megan Hammerle Memorial 5K takes place at 9 a.m. May 11 at Lebanon High School. Register for the race by clicking the Megan Hammerle 5K link at