Fort Rucker runs to remember
May 3, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 3, 2012) -- The people of Fort Rucker are no strangers to honoring Soldiers who serve in the nation's armed forces, and they are not ones to forget those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice.
More than 300 people ran to honor fallen heroes and the survivors they left behind with the Survivors and Fallen Heroes 5k run at the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Facility, April 28.
"It brings the community together and shows how everybody is willing to get involved and show their support," said Bianca Ramos Del Rio, fitness specialist at Fortenberry-Colton Physical Fitness Facility. "Soldiers make a great sacrifice and sometimes a final sacrifice to fight for freedom in [this] country. Providing a race like this is the least we can do for them and their families."
The winners of the 5k were David Seymor, overall male open winner, with a time of 18:19; Stephan Berndert, overall male master winner, with a time of 20:43; Jerry Manning, overall male grandmaster winner, with a time of 20:44; Emily King, overall female open winner, with a time of 21:13; Annmarie Sutter, overall female master winner, with a time of 26:05; and Maryann Pfalzgraff, overall female grandmaster winner, with a time of 26:14.
The event also included a one-mile fun run for children that took place after the 5k.
The race was put on by the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the members of B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment and the Survivor Outreach Services, known as SOS, program to honor survivors and those that have fallen in service to our country, said Beth Gunter, financial counselor for SOS.
"Our goal is to help survivors realize that they are always part of the military family," she said. "Even though they have lost their [loved one], it doesn't mean that they are any less important to our military family."
Gunter said SOS is designed to be there for the grieving families just as if someone from their immediate family would be there to help them through the grief.
"This is a military family and we are there in the same aspect -- to help them work through the grief and help them move forward," she said.
Those participating in the run were able to show their support by wearing gold stars with the names of fallen heroes on them that symbolize the survivors they left behind, according to Gunter.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tobi Tatum, A Company, 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment, participated in the run with his wife, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Heather Tatum, B Co., 1st Bn., 223rd Avn. Regt., and their four children, wearing gold stars to remember friends that they have lost.
"I've got a lot of friends that are no longer here," he said. "I'm running for a friend who I lost that I was stationed with in Fort Bragg, N.C., Kosovo and Germany."
"We just want to show them that they aren't forgotten," added Heather.
Sgt. Donna Little, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., said she participates in any run that she can and participating in this run was her way of paying respect to those that have been lost.
"I love running. I do it all the time and I participate in all the runs the military holds," she said. "I know a lot of people who have lost their lives in the war and I just want to pay them back and show them my thanks."
Members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a national organization of motorcycle enthusiasts who attend the funerals of fallen Soldiers -- at the request of the families -- were also in attendance at the event to show their support, said Howard Swain, Patriot Guard Rider and retired Soldier.
"We feel that it's a heck of a sacrifice that some people make for this country and the freedom that we enjoy every single day," said Swain. "A lot of people don't realize that, but the people that ride with us do. [The Patriot Guard Riders] supports all veterans and heroes -- not only military, but first responders like firefighters and police."
After the run, participants were able to enjoy food provided by B Co. 1/145th, and children were able to play in inflatable bouncy houses and slides at the soccer fields across from the fitness facility.
Staff Sgt. Julius Perez from Fort Drum, N.Y., said he was happy to be able to participate in the events of the day, especially for such a good cause.
"These [Soldiers] gave their lives for a reason," he said. "All of us are fighting the same fight, so if you can't support them, who can you support?"