Village People: Aaron Peppers, 50, Runs The World

Monday, February 19, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

One day last March, Maywood police officer Aaron Peppers, 50, woke up one morning in Dallas, Tex., to run a half-marathon, took a shower, and hopped on a plane to Mexico City, Mexico for another race that night.

Some months later, Peppers was in Shenzhen, China.

“I ran my race, finished, took a shower, got on a plane and 16 hours later was in Los Angeles to run a half-marathon there,” the Maywood native said during a recent phone interview.

Peppers participates in the Rock n’ Roll Marathon Series, which holds running events around the world throughout the year. The events often feature marathons “with bands along the course celebrating each participant,” according to the organization’s website.

Last year, the Maywood native and 24-year veteran of the village’s police force made Rock n’ Roll history when he became the first African American to run all 25 running events in the series — which took him to places like New Orleans, Nashville, Brooklyn, Liverpool, Montreal, Dublin and Madrid.

Village People_Officer Peppers_after a run

Aaron Peppers during a Rock n’ Roll Marathon in Indianapolis. | Submitted 

Peppers had already distinguished himself in 2016, when he ran the 15 races necessary to make the Rock n’ Roll’s Hall of Fame.

And as if running, literally, across the globe isn’t enough, Peppers juggles a full-time job, master’s degree and personal trainer certification studies, substitute teaching duties at District 209 and the demands of family life. How does he do it?

“My wife [Shawn] is serious about her nutrition, so I eat balanced meals,” he said. “I don’t eat a lot. I don’t eat fast food. And I just have an unbelievable work ethic that carries over into all aspects of my life. That’s just the type of person I am.”

Village People_Officer Peppers_with wife

Peppers leans in as his wife, Shawn, puts one of his countless marathon medals on his neck. | Shanel Romain/VFP 

Peppers, the former head varsity football coach at Proviso East, said that he tried instilling that work ethic in his players, as well. What fuels that drive, he added, is the level of commitment and endurance he often sees while traveling the country for marathons.

“In San Diego, last year, I’d just ran a 5K and my buddy and I saw this lady jogging with an amputated leg,” he recalled. “I stopped her and said, ‘I have to ask, what happened? She said she was a Marine and she lost her leg in active duty. I said, ‘God bless you and I appreciate you.’ I told my friend that it’s stuff like that that keeps me going.

“We cry and whine about what we don’t have, but this lady had one leg,” Peppers added. “One marathon I was running in Nashville, there was this blind lady running with her friend, who was guiding her. She was running not even knowing her next step. We can’t complain.”

Village People_Officer Peppers_with kids

Peppers poses in his home with his many medals and his two grandsons. | Shanel Romain/VFP 

Peppers said that he’s coming up on the end of his long career in policing. He hopes to teach criminal studies at the collegiate level. His advice to young, up-and-coming people in law enforcement? Do it for the right reasons.

“I love helping people,” he said. “You always have to remember why you became a cop and it’s to help people. You’ve got to understand that the star is a symbol of peace. Use your platform for that.”

Aaron Peppers_2

The remnants of Peppers’ running success are all over his Maywood home, even on the hardwood floors. | Shanel Romain/VFP 

Another important source of his zeal for life, Peppers said, were the many conversations he had over the years with his neighbor, Wash Wesley — the Maywood man widely considered to have been the state’s oldest resident when he died in 2015 at 112 years old. Wesley was a deacon at his Maywood church who drove long after he turned 100.


Peppers with his Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame medal. | Shanel Romain/VFP 

“We used to have conversations and he probably never knew just how those conversations inspired me,” Peppers said. “Just the little things he said. Every day, he got up and he wanted to see life. A lot of people take that for granted. It’s a blessing to wake up every day. We might as well make it fun.” VFP 

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7 thoughts on “Village People: Aaron Peppers, 50, Runs The World”

  1. God bless you Officer Peppers and your wife Shawn, you both inspire live life better and have fun doing it, taking nothing for granted. Thank you both for your genuine example.

  2. God bless you Officer Peppers and your wife Shawn, you both inspire me to live life better and have fun doing it, taking nothing for granted. Thank you both for your genuine example.

  3. This is my nephew I have loved him all of my life, and he has made me proud of him all of his life. Avis J Marshall-Ward.

  4. You were an inspiration when I was the Assistant Principal at Proviso East. You helped students and and gave them something to look up to.You showed them a work ethic,both professional and personal, for them to achieve.

  5. Awesome article, Michael! Officer Aaron Peppers have been a positive male influence in the Proviso Township, especially when he was head of security at Proviso East. I saw his leadership helping so many young males that did not have a father figure in the house. Kudos to you Officer Peppers! I wish you all the best with your endeavors, and continue to pass down your knowledge and wisdom to the next generation.

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