There were no admission fees and no one in the stands for the second annual Run for the Fallen at Mansion Park, but there was a presence of the region's fallen veterans in the pumping hearts of about 200 runners and walkers honoring their heroes Saturday on the park's track.
The low-key event was a relief for Gary Ingham, who didn't want the anguish of hearing gun taps that were fired at many memorials he has attended for fallen veterans since his son, staff Sgt. Matthew Ingham, was killed in 2010 at the age of 25 in Afghanistan.
Instead, Ingham enjoyed hearing what his son's fellow veterans had to say about him.
Jared Winn (left) and Tyler Haslet, both 17 and from State College, ran with a group who are in the Marine Corps delayed entry program Saturday at Mansion Park as part of the Run for the Fallen event, which is held in honor of service members who died.
"They saw a side of my son that I never did," Ingham said. "People looked up to him."
Ingham was joined by community members including Altoona Mayor Bill Schirf, who was so determined to run that he would not speak with reporters until he finished three miles around the track.
Schirf said Ingham was killed during his first month as mayor.
"I feel dedicated to the cause of our soldiers," Schirf said as sweat dropped from his head. "They always give their best to defend our country. This is a wonderful event to honor those who pay the ultimate price for the United States."
Run organizer Lori Emig, a friend of Matthew Ingham, also collected care packages for military men and women.
"We want to make sure the military over there now gets our support, and they know we are thinking about them," Emig said.
For Roy Edmundson of Williamsburg, the event was an opportunity to reflect on the life of his son, Spc. Chad Edmundson, who was killed in Iraq at the age of 20 in 2009. He was a member of the 56th Stryker Brigade, Frankstown Armory Unit of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
"It's a chance to remember all of the fallen war veterans, and it brings our family together for an opportunity to talk about Chad," Edmundson said.
Danny Seilhamer, 2, who walked for his uncle, Staff Sgt. Danny Lightner, was killed Oct. 27, at the age of 28, while serving the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in Iraq.
Seilhamer's mother, Shonda Seilhamer, said she attended last year and will walk again next year.
"We support our troops, and we are thankful for what they do over there," Seilhamer said.
Veterans who walked and ran included Staff Sgt. Brian Baum, who joined the Marines with his brother Gunnery Sgt. Ronald E. Baum 15 years ago. The brothers were deployed together, and Brian returned home to Altoona with Ronald's body when he was killed in 2004.
"I followed Ron into the Marines when we were both working at local restaurants," Baum said. "He came up to me and said 'We're going to talk to a Marine Army recruiter.'"
Baum said his brother, who served the Marines first as a Dragon gunner and then as a member of the 2nd intelligence Battalion, Second Marine Division from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, always wanted to challenge himself.
Running is a metaphor for the challenges military men and women face, said Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Huddleston of the Altoona Marine Corps recruiting station, whose recruits ran a combined total of 75 miles from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
"It's about sacrifice, pushing your limits," he said. "It's about slowing down so the next guy can catch up putting a hand on his back to speed him up so that he knows he can make it next time when his brother isn't there."
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.