Third Annual 'Run/Walk for the Fallen' honors Illinoisans who died in Iraq, Afghanistan

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The third "Run for the Fallen” in memory of Illinois military men and women who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq is planned for Aug. 18 at Charleston High School’s Trojan Hill.

People are invited to run or walk a mile in memory of one of the more than 240 Illinois residents who have died serving their country in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The event is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Charleston High School track. Participants may run or walk their mile any time in that period.

Each walker/runner will receive a card bearing a photo and biographical information on an Illinois resident who has died while serving in one of the two theaters of conflict. The cards will be distributed at the event. Participation is free.

"We just want to make sure our fallen soldiers are not forgotten," said Vivian  Bales of Charleston, one of the sponsors. "We have had a great response to the first two years' events so we thought we would offer it again. Approximately one Illinois military service member a month has died in Iraq or Afghanistan since we gathered at Trojan Hill last August. We want people to remember and honor the sacrifice of so many soldiers and their families.”

At last year’s event, more than 600 people came from Coles County and beyond to run or walk a mile for a fallen Illinois soldier.

Information and registration is available at www.charlestonillinois.org. From the home page, click on the 2012 Run for the Fallen icon. Print, complete, and return the waiver form to the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department.  If you want to walk for a specific soldier, please note that on the waiver form.

Participants are asked to report to the check-in tent, pick up a card with a soldier’s photo and information, then walk or run a mile in that soldier’s honor. After finishing the mile, each walker or runner can ring the large bell and place an American flag in the south end zone.

Vivian Bales (217-549-0117 or vbales@consolidated.net), Carolyn Cloyd, Bill and Cheryl Lair (217-345-9580 or bclair@consolidated.net) and the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department are sponsoring the run/walk in conjunction with the national "Run for the Fallen" program.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1592 Ladies Auxiliary is providing small American flags for people to place in the end zone at Trojan Hill in memory of the fallen service members. State Sen. Dale Righter has contributed water for all participants. The Mattoon High School JROTC drill team plans to perform and the Charleston VFW Post 1592 Honor Guard will perform a solemn service in honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

In addition, participants can view photos and information about all the fallen Illinois soldiers in a new “wall of honor.”