BEXLEY, Ohio (WCMH) – One central Ohio couple is fighting to keep the memory of their son alive by continuing his support for a community he cared so much about.

Craig Kleiman died suddenly on his 40th birthday back in December of 2019, but his parents Marc and Arlene combined his two passions to remember his life.

Kleiman’s dedication to running brought him to the streets of Bexley nearly every day, despite being diagnosed with a form of autism.

His parents said he never let autism stop him from facing a new challenge and spend many days teaching children and connecting with special needs youth who faced many of the same struggles he did.

Monday was an opportunity to honor the man they said left a lasting impact on everyone he knew. Runners hit the familiar streets of Bexley for a 5K in Craig’s honor.

“I think it was the challenge of doing it,” said Mark Kleiman. “For him, it wasn’t necessarily about winning, it was about never stopping, never quitting. He was determined.”

“A few times, we’d be having coffee at Starbuck, and I watched some of his students come in, and they looked at him like he was LeBron James,” said Amy Shifflette, Craig’s best friend. “He just had a way of connecting with his students.”

The funds raised with Monday’s run will support Autism Speaks and its mission of bridging the gap between the underserved and minority populations and early diagnoses in members of those communities.