Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reliving the 6th Annual Pat’s Run

By Chris Daley

On April 17, I joined nearly 30,000 people at Arizona State’s Sun Devil Stadium to honor Pat Tillman. It was part of the sixth annual Pat’s Run, the signature fundraising event for The Pat Tillman Foundation. The Pat Tillman Foundation was started in 2004 in honor of Tillman, a former football player who was killed on April 22, six years ago today, while fighting for this country in the United States Army. The Foundation honors Tillman’s legacy and provides resources and educational support to veterans, active servicemembers and their dependants.

Pat’s Run has grown considerably from roughly 5,000 participants in 2005, to over 28,000 in this year’s race. The 4.2 mile run (in honor of the number Tillman wore as a football player at Arizona State) officially had 20,629 finishers and according to Running USA’s list of largest races in the U.S. (last updated in 2008), Pat’s Run has grown into one of the top 15 largest running events in just six years.

My inspiration to participate in the race came after reading Jon Krakauer’s book, “Where Men Win Glory, The Odyssey of Pat Tillman” last fall. I’d heard the story about Tillman leaving football to join the Army Rangers post 9/11, but this book provided me with a closer look at the man who positively impacted everyone around him. The book made me look at life from a different perspective and gave me the urge to start setting some new goals for myself.

In January I decided to register for Pat’s Run to pay tribute to Tillman and support the Pat Tillman Foundation. To make the experience even better, I convinced my father, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and a close friend from high school to join me and participate in the run. With my father’s 60th birthday on April 27, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the occasion than a few days in Arizona, playing golf and running a race together to honor a true American Hero.

My goal was to finish the race in less than 30 minutes. When I crossed the finish line last Saturday on the 42-yard line of Frank Kush Field, I had done it. My official time was 29 min. 10 sec. and I finished in 453rd place overall. My father also finished in an impressive 1,326th place. The race was fun and a great experience to share with my Dad.

Perry Edinger, Pat's friend and former head trainer for the Arizona State’s football team was one of the people who initiated the idea of this race and said, "With Pat's Run, people are motivated to exercise and do something positive for themselves, while honoring Pat's memory, sharing their stories and ultimately being an inspiration to others."

The Pat Tillman Foundation is providing a tremendous service to our servicemembers and their families across the U.S. As they continue to build their Leadership Through Action programs, support for the organization is growing rapidly. The foundation’s Facebook page has nearly 24,000 followers as of today, and it seems to be growing by the hundreds each week.

I felt that this race would be a perfect opportunity to utilize social media and engage my small twitter following with updates and photos throughout the day, which turned out to be quite fun. In addition, I was asked by Heather Schader, the public relations and marketing manager for the Pat Tillman Foundation to conduct a television interview because I was an out-of-state runner. I came to find out that the interview was with a production crew from The Weinstein Company who are developing a documentary that will potentially air on A&E. So, if my sound bites make it past the cutting room floor there is a chance I’ll be featured in the film slated to air later this year. That would be something.

Pat’s Run was an amazing experience. I’m happy that I was able to be apart of it and share the memory with so many people. I am already planning to take part in the 2011 race and set another goal.

Foundations like the Pat Tillman Foundation and event’s like Pat’s Run continue to show the power and impact nonprofits can have within our society and that’s a wonderful thing.

Chris Daley is an Account Executive. Contact him at Follow him on twitter @CDaley43.

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1 comment:

  1. What a great event Chris...and you ran an amazing time! Thanks for sharing.