FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Hundreds of Soldiers, retirees, family members and civilians gathered to run in honor those who have fought and fallen in service to the nation, as well as the families they left behind.

The Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation hosted the 2018 Survivors and Fallen Heroes 5k run April 21 to keep the memory of those who sacrificed in service alive, and to remind people what they fought for.

During the run, runners were invited to wear gold stars with the names of service members they wished to honor, and for many, like Donna Hallock, Gold Star Family member, it's something that helps her cope with the loss of a family member.

Hallock attended the run in honor of her brother, Sgt. 1st Class William T. Butts, who was killed during Desert Storm when his helicopter was shot down over Iraq in 1990.

Although Hallock didn't participate in the run, there were two who ran in honor of her brother: Sgt. 1st Class Sarah Whatley, NCO Academy NCO in charge, and her husband, David.

"It was great to have them run in honor of my brother," said Hallock. "Last year, some of the students from the academy wore the star (in honor of him), and when I came to this (run) I found out that (the Whatleys) had T-shirts made in his name and I almost cried because it was so awesome that they did that."

It's the support that Hallock continues to get from her Army family, as well as Survivor Outreach Services, that helps her cope with the loss. It also inspires her to reach out and provide support, as well, she said.

"Tommy and I were really close and it bothered me quite a bit (when he passed), and I had to go seek (therapy), because back then they didn't really have much in terms of outreach for us," said Hallock. "This is my outlet now and SOS is such a great thing to have.

"They (staff at the NCO Academy) involve me in everything, too," she said. "They send me emails to come to different events they have with the students, and the SOS has me involved in everything that they do.

Hallock is involved in many of the events that SOS puts on and said she wants to involve herself more in the healing process for other families, as well.

"I want to get involved more with newer (Gold Star Family members) with counseling or just talking with them and sharing experiences because it also helps me cope with the loss," she said. "Even though it's been 20 years, it's still fresh sometimes."

In addition to having Soldiers and family members support each other during the run, many other people attended to show their support as the runners sprinted off the line.

"We support (the Soldiers) because they're defending our country," said Butch Moody, veteran and member of the Patriot Guard Riders. "We're still free because of those people down there and we attend these events to support our military."