Marathoners raise $23,000 to help families of slain servicemembers
Participants in the Iraq version of the Honolulu Marathon raised $23,000 in donations for an organization helping families of servicemembers killed in combat.
The money will benefit the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which provides services such as peer support, counseling and education help.
Information about the program, along with a list of the runners and the fallen servicemembers they represented, is available at http://www.taps.org/ marathon/honolulu.aspx.
The race was held Dec. 10 and many of those who participated are part of the 25th Infantry Division, which is deployed from Hawaii.
First Lt. Clayton O. Carpenter, of the 3rd Battalion, 25 Aviation, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, ran the race in memory of Capt. Blake Russell, who was killed in Baghdad earlier this year.
“This is my first deployment and everything, and I can only imagine what the family has gone through losing someone so close to them,” Carpenter said in a military news release. “Just to be able to run in his name means a lot.”
The race was won by Spc. William Smallwood, of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment. According to race officials, Smallwood’s winning time was 2:53:23.
Some of the families helped by TAPS wrote to the runners.
“What an honor to our family,” Norma Melo wrote in a letter to Staff Sgt. Jaime Pieniazek, who ran for her husband, Staff Sgt. Julian S. Melo, who was killed in Mosul in 2004.
“TAPS has helped our family in so many ways that I cannot begin to tell you the feeling of family that is given to survivors.”