The Kentucky Run for the Fallen has one mission: to honor and remember Kentucky soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the War on Terror, and Sept. 7-8, the nonprofit is inviting area families to join them in paying tribute.
The Kentucky Run for the Fallen, which is affiliated with the national run that has had more than 50,000 participants run more than 200,000 miles since its inception in 2008, will begin at the Charles E. Shelton Memorial along the riverfront in Owensboro on Sept. 7. The route travels south on U.S. 231, heads west on Kentucky 298 where it will end up on U.S. 431 and eventually on Kentucky 81, where it will head into Calhoun, Rumsey and Sacramento. From there it will continue on to Greenville. On Sept. 8, the route starts in Greenville and ultimately ends at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery West in Hopkinsville.
At each mile marker along the routes, the runners stop and read off the names of Kentucky soldiers who were killed in action on specific days.
Chris Conley of Owensboro is the assistant director of Kentucky's Run for the Fallen. Conley participated in the national Run for the Fallen last year that was a 6,000-mile trek across the country that ended its journey at Arlington National Cemetery. That run changed his life and inspired him to organize one locally.
He said a lot of Kentucky families don't have the means to travel to participate in the national run.
"So the idea was, let's do this in Kentucky. Let's give these Kentucky families the opportunity to hear their heroes' names said out loud," Conley said. "Because a hero dies twice, once at their death and once when nobody ever says their name again."
Conley, a veteran who has a veteran son and a son currently deployed, said being involved in these veteran runs has given him back his will to help and serve others.
"It's given me back to me," he said. "It makes me happy to help someone."
Charlotte Ball, another organizer of the run who also participated in the national run, said she is looking for sponsors to assist with the costs of putting on such a run. There are runners coming from as far as New York and Canada to participate, and to house them for the nights of the run, feed them and provide proper protection and insurance, costs money.
"We are a nonprofit that runs on donations," she said.
More than the monetary support, she said, she wants the support of the communities that the run goes through. She wants to see the streets lined with supporters.
"We want as many people as possible to be there to cheer on these runners and to be at the mile markers to hear the names of these soldiers called out," she said.
To see the routes the Kentucky run will take, and to see which veteran names will be read at which mile marker, visit kentucky.usarunforthefallen.org.
Bobbie Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7315.