On Saturday morning, Gary Ingham will have the total number of American service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, which currently sits at 5,627.
When he gets the total number, he plans to join many others, who will run or walk 1 mile for each fallen service member.
"If I don't run 10 miles, I will be pretty disappointed in myself," Ingham said Wednesday. "I don't know how many I'll run, but I'm going to keep going until I can't."
Ingham and others are planning to honor each service member killed in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom at the first annual Run For The Fallen in Pennsylvania. It will be held at Mansion Park Stadium from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ingham has a special heart for the effort as his son, Staff Sgt. Matthew N. Ingham, was killed in Afghanistan on Jan. 11.
Matthew Ingham was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor. The Marine crawled to a radio and called for air support after his unit was ambushed, saving the lives of 12 fellow Marines.
IF YOU GO
What: Run For The Fallen
When: Mansion Park
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday
For more information: Lori Emig, 934-6905, or Gary Ingham, 502-4322.
Since 2003, 21 service members from the region have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The goal is to have all 50 states participate in the event each year, Ingham said. In 2009, 5,000 participants in 35 states and four countries, running a combined total of more than 31,000 miles.
Lori Emig helped Ingham bring the event to central Pennsylvania. They established the event in Pennsylvania with the help of Matthew's friends after they realized Pennsylvania was one of the 15 states that didn't host the event.
Emig said she is hoping for a large turnout Saturday to support the Americans who are currently at war and those who lost their lives defending the country.
"It should mean a lot to everybody because these guys are protecting our country," Emig said. "There is no way we can pay them back but we can honor them with events like this."
Emig said the event means a lot to her because she has friends in the Army and Navy.
Matthew Ingham was close friends with her boyfriend and she has become good friends with Matthew's parents since his death, she said.
Charles Cates, director of the Blair County Veterans Affairs' office, said he applauds Ingham and Emig for establishing the event in Pennsylvania.
"I think it is great and I'm all for it," Cates said."The fact that it is not a fundraiser and just a memorial to families and loved ones is marvelous."
Though he won't be running or walking because of a back injury, Cates said he is attending the event Saturday to cheer on the people walking and running for the troops. He said he also plans to have his grandchildren run a combined mile for him.
People are traveling from out of state to support the event, Ingham said. People who can't make it are going to run on their treadmills from home, track the mileage and call in with the number of miles they ran.
The event was created to raise awareness and show support to the troops currently fighting in the war, Ingham said.
"We don't want to forget that there are people over there dying for our country," he said. "It's just an awareness thing to get your head back into the reality that life is not free."