Run/Walk for the Fallen continues tradition

Some ran, some walked, but everyone at the Lake of the Ozarks Run/Walk for the Fallen had the same thing in mind.

Saturday marked the event’s fourth year in the lake area. Before the more than 100 participants set off on their course around Camdenton Middle School, event coordinator Trish Creach of the Camdenton Chamber of Commerce reminded everyone that their goal was to pay tribute to soldiers who died as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to honor soldiers still on duty in those regions.

“We want to take an opportunity to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers and especially our Missouri soldiers,” Creach said.

The Lake of the Ozarks event is in conjunction with the national Run for the Fallen organization, which sent a team of runners from Fort Irwin, Calif., to Arlington National Cemetery — one mile for every soldier killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom — in June 2008.

Creach said she witnessed those runners when they passed through Camdenton, which inspired her to make the lake area one of the communities that have adopted the Run for the Fallen event locally.

“It was a tremendous sight to see this group,” she said.

Tags attached to participants’ clothing specified which of the 139 fallen Missouri soldiers they were walking in honor of. Participants logged their own miles to be added to Run for the Fallen’s national total, displayed on the organization’s website.

Along with the run/walk, the event also included a program including the presentation of the colors, national anthem, introduction of local Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in battle and a video presentation showing photos of each fallen Missouri soldier from the recent campaigns.

Participation in the event was free, but many who attended made donations to Flags for Freedom Outreach, which helps support members of the armed services and their families.

Creach said she hopes next year’s run/walk will reach 200 participants; and, as always, the event will be scheduled first thing in the morning to make attendance easy.

“We just want to take a few minutes out of our Saturday mornings to say thank you to our soldiers,” she said.

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