In remembering those who have died saving lives and defending our nation, words often fall short in recognizing the magnitude of these heroes' sacrifice. In 2011, a small group of dedicated individuals set out to change the way the Coast Guard community remembers the fallen, by proposing a 100 mile "Run to Remember." The distance not only provided time to reflect, but also brought attention to the story of fallen Coast Guardsmen. And the sweat and pain of the runners symbolized the devotion of those left behind to honor the memory of those lost.
In its inaugural year the event involved a single runner who covered the 100 mile distance from Florida's Key Largo to Key West. Wearing a shirt printed with the names of 20 Coast Guard men and women lost since September 11, 2001, the runner exposed people in every car, town, and roadside stop to their sacrifices and told their stories when asked. Through sponsorships and donations the runner and his core group of supporters also raised money for the children and spouses left behind, with all proceeds donated to the Coast Guard Foundation's Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund. Most importantly their actions inspired an entire service.
A year later, the second Run to Remember in Key West was a relay which involved 90 participants, each wearing a shirt with the name of a Coast Guardsman lost in the performance of duty. Instead of a single route through the Florida Keys, multiple routes were planned with 17 units across the country and throughout the world, from Kuwait to Hawaii. With increased participation came increased donations and demand for the event's primary fundraising tool, t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase "I Run to Remember", which sold out before the event and helped provide a contribution to the Fallen Hero Scholarship Fund. The 2nd Run to Remember was an epic success and truly set the ground work for the next stage of the fundraiser.
The 2013 events established themself as the largest Coast Guard memorial with 63 units across the globe all participating within a 96 hour time frame of each other. More than 5,000 participants gathered at these historic events.
By the time all was done, more than $36,500 was raised for the Coast Guard Foundation's Fallen Hero Scholarship Fund.