A day-long run through western Illinois will honor and remember the state's fallen military service members and first responders.
The Illinois Run for the Fallen will begin at 7:00 a.m. Saturday, April 13 at Sherman Hall on the Western Illinois University campus in Macomb and conclude 50 miles away at the Veteran's Memorial in Warsaw at 5:00 p.m.
It’s based on the national Run for the Fallen, which was first held in 2008. At that time, a group of runners ran more than 4,000 miles from Fort Irwin, California to Arlington National Cemetery. “One Mile for every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine killed since the War on Terror began,” according to the website for Run for the Fallen.
The event has grown over the years to where more than 50,000 participants have logged more than 200,000 miles in two dozen states.
Deborah Whitaker, a Gold Star mother from Warsaw, helped bring the event to western Illinois. Gold Star families lost a loved one during military service.
Whitaker said 10-20 runners are scheduled to participate in Saturday’s run. She said they will run in small teams, similar to a relay race, at a 9-10 minute/mile pace to allow enough time to stop and hold a brief ceremony every mile of the route.
At each stop, the team will read the names of the fallen military service members or first responders, their date of death, and branch of service. The event will include the Illinois State Police troopers who were killed in the line of duty in recent months.
“It’s an honor to be able to help all these families in a way that is very memorable to them,” said Whitaker.
Whitaker said each stop will last about 90 seconds, allowing enough time to read the names of more than 500 heroes during the 10-hour, 50-mile run. A chart as to when each name will be read can be found here.
Whitaker said family members and friends are encouraged to meet at a mile marker along the route to hear the names being read. They can also watch the run through a live feed. She said the run will conclude with a dinner and closing ceremony in Warsaw.