For some, it could just be their daily walk or run at Mansion Park, but Run for the Fallen organizers hope the people who exercise there this Saturday will take time to remember the fallen heroes who've given their all for their country.
And maybe others will come who don't really walk or run much usually, but just want to support a good cause.
Local coordinators will host the third annual Run for the Fallen race at the Altoona track, where they hope to gain awareness for soldiers who have died in the 10 years since the United States entered Iraq. The idea got its start in this area when a local Marine, Matthew Ingham, died in the conflict in 2010. His family decided to join the "Run for the Fallen'' effort and the concept has caught on locally.
The idea was first born in California, where the best friend of a soldier killed in Iraq came up with the idea to run from California to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., a distance of about 4,000 miles, according to www.runforthefallen.org.
Along the way, the soldier's friend, running with a team, placed an American flag and sign cards describing his fallen friend and other soldiers who'd died in the Iraqi conflict at one-mile intervals along the route.
People poured out of their homes and businesses to greet the runners to show their support for the nonpartisan effort. The people added photos of their own loved ones who had also served in the military and paid the ultimate price while stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. America is in the process of pulling out of Iraq but is still in Afghanistan and the process of exiting Iraq is still a risky and dangerous undertaking.
If you go
What: Run for the Fallen Memorial run/race/10K, in honor of our fallen service members from both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operating Enduring Freedom
When: 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Mansion Park, Altoona
Soon, other locations, like Altoona, picked up the idea of honoring fallen heroes with races to add laps to the national total.
They started having their own events to honor their fallen heroes, said Karen Baum, whose brother-in-law, Ronald Baum, died in Iraq in 2004. Both Ronald and his brother, Brian, enlisted in the Marines. Now Brian and his wife, Karen, hope events like the 10K race will help keep his memory alive.
"[The Iraqi conflict] has been going on since 2001 and it's still going on,'' Karen Baum said. "There's not been an end to it yet. There are still lives being lost.''
At the local event Saturday, participants can either run or walk around the track, she said. Organizers hope to log 7,000 laps, which she said would roughly represent the number of soldiers who've died since the conflict began in Iraq and Afghanistan. When they're finished, participants will be asked to register their names and how many laps they completed, so that the number of laps may be entered into the national "Run for the Fallen'' record.
"It's a nice way for people to get out and show these people that they're thinking about them,'' Baum said. "There are no parades for them, no monuments for these soldiers. This really means a lot to their families."