|< Prev||Next >|
“This is the first time we’ve done a fundraiser for the run down here,” said Eileen Kreis, a township secretary and organizer for the New Jersey Run for the Fallen. “The event has gotten bigger every year. Our expenses on this end involve accommodations for the group of active military runners, as well as for the Gold Star families who travel here for the start of the event.”
New Jersey’s Run for the Fallen is part of a national network of events. The Garden State’s version is a 174 mile run which starts at the Cape May Lighthouse and ends three days later at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Holmdel.
Each mile of the local run, which is typically the last weekend in September, is dedicated to a New Jersey soldier, sailor, airman or marine killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The designated runners, active duty and reserve service men and women, mark each mile with an American flag and sign card. The cards bear a reflection of remembrance for each service member and are presented to family members and friends at each marker.
The core team runners move at an eight minute mile pace and carry the U.S. flag, the New Jersey state flag and the “Honor and Remember” flag. The core teams each run seven mile sections.
“We always have teams from the Wounded Warriors that we house as well, and there are the drinks, and T-shirts, fuel for vehicles, and flags and banners,” Kreis said. “If people can’t attend the Beef and Beer, donations are still very welcomed.”
The Beef and Beer event will run 6-10 p.m. on Saturday. It includes a DJ, raffle, auction and 50/50. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased at the door or in advance online at www.NJRunForTheFallen.org .
The Run for the Fallen organization was founded in 2008, and according to the national group’s website, in aggregate, more than 150,000 miles have been run since the event began.
Last year, mile marker 10 on the route was dedicated to Lower Cape May Regional High School graduate Michael Scusa, 22, an Army sergeant killed on Oct. 3, 2009 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan.
Scusa, a 2005 Lower Township graduate, lived in the Villas. He grew up in Nebraska, moved to Cape May County in 1999, and enlisted in the Army out of high school. He had been married about two years at the time of his death and had a one-year-old son, Connor.
Overall, those with New Jersey ties being honored range in age from 18 to 52.
Since 2001, more than 6,600 men and women have died while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.