I know I'm joining this conversation a little late but ...
I just wanted to say that I grew up with Al Heppner in Columbia, MD, went to school with him from K through 12 and we were even in the same Cub Scout pack as kids ... he was always a fun-loving kid with a big smile on his face. I last saw him at our 10-year high school reunion in the summer of '02 but just spoke with him a few months ago when he was in Boston (where I now live) for a family function. Along with some other friends from MD, I was proud of what he had accomplished in race walking and completely in shock with the news of his passing. I always knew Al had an unbelievable competitiveness in him but never dreamed it could lead to something like this. We will miss him in Columbia, MD.