GIG HARBOR, Wa.--Leslie Mayne transformed her personal tragedy into a celebration of life. She founded a half marathon that raises money for Soldiers recovering from mental and physical injuries while serving in the military.

Mayne's son, Pfc. Kyle Farr, passed away in 2009. Farr suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury during a deployment to Iraq in 2006.

More than 1,400 civilians, Soldiers and their families participated in the inaugural 13.1 mile, Race for a Solider, and a two mile walk run and kid's fun run Oct. 16 at the Youth Men's Christian Association of Gig Harbor.

Mayne is founding a nonprofit organization, The Permission To Start Dreaming Foundation. She believes that this is what PSTD should mean. Currently her organization is operating under the umbrella of the United Service Organizations.

Proceeds from the race will go to support programs for Soldiers to include: the Puget Sound Area USO, Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors, Horses For Heroes through Rainer Therapeutic Riding, and Canines and Heroes for Independence.

The sponsors of the race included Evergreen Asset Management of Gig Harbor, the USO and more than a dozen other sponsors. All sponsors set up displays around the stage near the start and finish line.

Mayne's brother, Kenny Mayne of ESPN announced the start of the race by paying tribute to his nephew. His family members then joined him on stage singing the National Anthem to the group, symbolizing the participant's support for their Soldiers.

"This whole event was born with another death from one of our wars," said Kenny Mayne of ESPN. "We turned it into all of this life here today."

The race began with a gunshot and the runners and walkers navigated the 13.1 mile route through the beautiful Canterwood community and experienced magnificent views of Gig Harbor.

Hundreds of volunteers, including members of the USO, Soldier's from the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and civilians from the local community, handed out water, specially designed dog tags and space blankets to the race finishers.

Pfc. Joseph Stearns, a supply specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 109th Military Intelligence Battalion at JBLM, volunteered at the event.

"I love volunteering, it is nice to interact with the community," said Stearns. "You get to come out and celebrate the fact that we are here because of what our Soldiers have done."
More than 300 active duty soldiers ran the race; ensuring a better future for their comrades in arms.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Bloom, a reconnaissance platoon sergeant assigned to 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade at JBLM, marched the route in his Army Combat Uniform with two American flags proudly displayed from the top of his heavy ruck sack. He is aware of the importance of this race.

"It is important to never forget the fallen Soldiers," said Bloom. "Without the sacrifices made by them, we wouldn't be the country we are today."

Cpt. Zenin Hamaguchi, commander of Bravo Company, 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, JBLM, placed twelfth with a time of 1 hour and 32 minutes.

"I am here to support our Soldiers and their families," said Hamaguchi. "It's touching to see the leaders from Joint Base Lewis-McChord supporting the Soldiers."

In the men's category, Thomas Betterbed took first place with a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes, .42 seconds, and James Roach and Joseph Churchill placed second and third.

Tana Kornachuck took the women's category, finishing in 1 hour, 27 minutes, .05 seconds with Ali Spies trailing behind her by only 23 seconds. Amanda L. Hoskins placed third.

The Post Race Celebration recognized Leslie Mayne for her efforts and attributed the memory of her son as the motivation for the inagural Race for a Soldier half marathon.

Kenny Mayne announced the winners of the male and female categories of the race while Col. Paul Norwood, commander, 201st BfSB presented the top 40 finishers with military coins.

"We are out here supporting our community, our families and our Soldiers," said Norwood. "Our nation owes our Soldiers their support for all of their contributions."

The celebration concluded with performances from the Rockaraoke Band and American Idol Season 6 finalist Sanjaya Malakar.

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Page last updated Tue November 1st, 2011 at 14:02