By Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal Defense Media Activity - Hawaii
JOINT BASE PEARL-HARBOR HICKAM, Hawaii, September 5, 2015 — Several thousand runners gathered at Ford Island to honor service members who have fallen after 9/11 as part of the 8K Fisher House Hero and Remembrance Run, Walk or Roll event here today.
According to their official website, the Fisher House Foundation is best known for its network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving medical treatment.
Theresa Johnson, Fort Hood Fisher House manager and founder of the Hero and Remembrance Run, started the event several years later to honor the memory of those who have fallen and those who serve. She said she was motivated to help after losing a family friend, Army Pfc. Timothy Vimoto, in 2007.
“In 2012, sometime in early spring, my son was actually getting ready to go on his deployment,” Johnson said. “Knowing that Timothy had died several years prior, we think about his family every day. I realized that it could be me. I’m a mother of a soldier and a wife of a soldier. I just wanted to do something to honor Tim’s sacrifice and his life, but also honor the service of my husband and my son. That’s where it all began.”
8,000 meters, 7,000 boots
More than 7,000 combat boots, each adorned with a photo of a fallen service member, lined the 8K running route to honor the memories and the sacrifices of the military men and women who gave their lives while serving their country.
“I wanted to do a unique run that would raise awareness but also bring the personal names and faces back,” Johnson said. “What we did was we created the run, and we had a picture of each fallen service member on the boot that you run past. After the run is over, we pick them up and there will actually be a display of the 7,000 all at once.”
Katie Garling, one of the participating runners, lost her husband -- a U.S. Army major -- on July 11, 2014.
“He was a big runner, and since he passed, I’ve been doing a lot more running. And I joined the Survivor Outreach Services Group here and there were a group of us that ran today,” Garling said. “He was a really strong person, and I get on with my life every day because I know that’s what he would want me to do. I think there is no better motivation then seeing all of the boots lined up and honoring the people who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. When you’re tired, just looking at those boots is motivating to make yourself want to keep going.”
Spreading the Message
Anita Clingerman, Tripler Fisher House manager, hopes that the event helps let military families know that Fisher House is there for them.
“It’s one way to tell people that we’re here,” Clingerman said. “There are so many people who don’t know what Fisher House is, and this is a great way to spread the word and let our military families know that we’re here for them. Just talking about the run you get emotional, they paid the ultimate price. I’m honored to be a part of this run.”
Johnson is proud of the teamwork and camaraderie volunteers and participants show during these events.
“This is our fourth here in Hawaii. I couldn’t be more proud because this event is not a fundraiser, everything is done by volunteers. It really is a community event where different businesses have reached out to help us. All this is done by volunteers, from moms with babies strapped on their front and back and service members from all branches. This is bringing everybody together.”