FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS (October 11, 2016) -- As thousands poured into the DC Armory Friday and Saturday to pick up registration packets and see the latest sports gear, some runners found a way to add meaning to run in Washington's Army Ten-Miler.
U.S. Army Installation Management Command's booth at the Army Ten-Miler Expo drew crowds who wanted to dedicate their run to fallen service members and their surviving families. The command's campaign "Run to Honor" encouraged runners at the Army Ten-Miler and around the world to remember the fallen during Columbus Day weekend.
The booth staff asked participants to fill out a commemorative sign to wear during their race. In addition, runners also wrote a memory on the Survivor Outreach Services memorial tree. SOS is an Army Community Service program and is a part of IMCOM's G9 Directorate.
"The Army Survivor Outreach Services Memorial Tree is a new addition to IMCOM's booth at the Army Ten-Miler Expo," said Donna Engeman, Survivor Outreach Services program manager at IMCOM. "Participants are invited to write a personalized message on a leaf which is then placed on the tree."
"The significance of the tree is that it represents life, and we want to remember and honor the lives of those who have died in service to our nation. Folks can write in memory of a family member, friend, battle buddy or even a unit."
Callean and David Holly, of Arlington, Virginia, stopped by the booth Saturday morning. Callean saw the memorial tree and wrote her father's name, Staff Sgt. William Beach, on a leaf.
"He was in World War II. He was a hometown hero and a big influence in our lives," said Callean.
Although she did not sign up to run, she cheered for David as he embarked on the 10-mile race in the District of Columbia. David is a property audit lead in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management and was excited to finally run in the Ten-Miler. He dedicated his run to Callean's father.
"He [Beach] served in the military, because it was the right thing to do. We have to remember the fallen," said David.
The winners of the BOSSfit competition also stopped by the IMCOM booth Saturday to dedicate their runs to the fallen. The U.S. Army Recruiting Command team from Fort Knox, Kentucky, won the 2016 health and fitness competition headed by IMCOM's Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program. The 10-person team traveled to Washington to meet with the Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey Friday and receive a check for USAREC. The team also signed up for the Ten-Miler.
During the week leading up to the race, three members were featured on Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation social media. They posed with their commemorative race signs and explained who they planned to honor.
Sgt. 1st Class Natasha Suarez honored her brother Andrew who passed away March 23, 2015. After his death, Suarez found out her brother was a registered organ donor, and his eyes were donated to two small children.
"We didn't know he was an organ donor, because it didn't say it on his license. We found out from the Nevada Donor Network that my brother had registered online to be an organ donor just days before he died," she said. "Because of my brother, two little kids can see again."
Richard Brunais, the SOS program manager for the Army National Guard, was at the booth Friday and Saturday to encourage runners to sign memorial tree leaves. The following day, he ran the Ten-Miler for the second time and thought about the surviving family members he works with every day.
"They made a sacrifice, both them and their loved ones. It's an honor to run and recognize them and give a little bit back to them for everything they have done for us," he said.
"It's not just about the run. It's about what we do every day to honor these fallen service members. The [SOS] program is really about taking care of those family members. They feel like they are a part of the Army family for as long as they desire. We're always there for them."
The tree was on display at IMCOM's "HOO-AH" tent at the Ten-Miler. After the race weekend, the tree will be displayed in the SOS offices at IMCOM headquarters and at various SOS events and activities throughout the year, according to Engeman.