By Tamas Mondovics
Six years ago, under the logo “Run for the Fallen,” a small team of runners ran across America to raise awareness about the lives of the service members who were killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
The effort began to keep the memories of fallen solders alive, to support organizations that help wounded veterans and the families of those who have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since that initial run across America, runners from around the world have joined Run for the Fallen collectively sporting more than 50,000 participants and 200,000 miles in remembrance of those fallen in OIF and OEF.
In 2013, Run for the Fallen reported 19,692 participants in 20 states, running a combined total of over 41,567 miles.
One of the organizations that has been locally supporting as well as hosting the free annual event is the Tampa Area Marine Parents Association (T.A.M.P.A.), a non-profit 501(c) (3) military and veteran organization, which since April of 2004 has been acting as a support group for Marine families located in Florida, welcoming Blue, Gold and Silver Star Families and patriotic supporters of all branches.
Run for the Fallen consists of 10K, 5K walk and run as well as a one-mile walk and run scheduled for Sunday, September 21, starting with late registration from 7:30-8:45 a.m. followed by an opening ceremony at 9 a.m. at the Hillsborough County Veterans Memorial Park located at 3602 N. U.S. Hwy. 301.
While currently needing more support by sponsors and donations, T.A.M.P.A. Executive Director Cyd Deathe was confident of a great turnout when she said, “We are a long way from topping last year’s numbers, but we know that our supporters will continue to share the word so that as many in the community as possible have the opportunity to come out and support this awesome event honoring our Gold Star Families and their fallen heroes.”
More than 3,000 residents took part in the event last year and Deathe said she hopes to at least reach that number once again in 2014.
“We are seeking the support of local businesses to provide us with water for the runners and donations to cover some other expenses associated with the event such as the hiring of local law enforcement that directs traffic during the duration of the run,” Deathe said.
On Saturday, September 20, the group will also host a cook out as well as a motorcycle procession, which will officially open event that includes a candlelight memorial later that evening.
For more information and to register for the event, visit usmcfamilysupport.org or call 965-2682.