NORTH DAKOTA GUARDSMEN PREPARE TO RUN FARGO MARATHON AT HOME AND OVERSEASNearly 70 Runners Will Sport TAPS Red, White & Blue Singlets Honoring Fallen Military Service Members
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 16, 2012
FARGO, N.D. — Dozens of North Dakota National Guard members will be taking part in the Fargo Marathon events this weekend in a couple of unique ways. Some will join with 18 family members of fallen heroes as part of the TAPS Run & Remember Team in Fargo, while about 35 others will run a satellite marathon in Southwest Asia.
Guardsmen, military families and civilian supporters will come together for the second year to honor military members who have died while in service to their country. Nearly 70 runners will sport TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) red, white and blue singlets featuring the photo and name of the deceased service member whom they’re honoring. Some are running in memory of a spouse or parent who has died, while others have been paired by TAPS with a family whom they have never met.
The runners are soliciting donations for TAPS, a nonprofit organization that provides comfort and care to anyone grieving the death of someone who served in the military. More than $10,000 has been raised so far this year; last year, $33,664 was raised by Fargo runners. The funds support national TAPS programs, including the annual National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors over Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C. This year, 23 North Dakota family members will take part in the event; 171 have attended since 2005.
WHAT: TAPS Run & Remember Team at the Fargo Marathon
WHEN: A handful of participants will take part in the Youth Run beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bison Sports Arena. About 30 runners will take part in the 5K at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the FargoDome, and the remaining runners have registered for Saturday events, which also start near the FargoDome.
WHERE: Bison Sports Arena, 1300 17th Ave. N., Fargo, and the FargoDome, 1800 N. University Drive, Fargo
MEDIA: TAPS runners will be gathering for a group photo prior to Friday’s and Saturday’s races in the southeast corner of the FargoDome and some will be available there for interviews. Marie Campbell, TAPS Run & Remember Team director, will be available for interviews at the TAPS Run & Remember Team booth during the Swanson Products Health & Fitness Expo at the FargoDome Thursday and Friday.
For more information, contact local volunteer coordinators for the Run & Remember Team: Amy Wieser Willson at 701-367-2231 or Penny Ripperger at 701-212-8710.
In the meantime, members of the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Civil Engineer Squadron will be running satellite Fargo Marathon events in Southwest Asia. The group left in December 2011 for a six-month deployment there. Per Air Force regulations, the exact location cannot be disclosed. It’s safe to say that area of the world is quite hot this time of the year, though, which means the Airmen known as the Happy Hooligans will not be running at the exact same time as in Fargo in order to avoid hotter parts of the day.
Thirty-five Guardsmen will run in the 5K, 10K and half-marathon events overseas. The 5K and 10K will take place at 5 a.m. their local time on May 18 while the half-marathon will start at 4 a.m. their time on May 20. The group coordinated with Mark Knutson, Fargo Marathon director, and will receive race shirts and medals on site for the participants.
WHAT: Satellite Fargo Marathon events
WHEN: May 18 and May 20
WHERE: Southwest Asia
MEDIA: With notice, Skype interviews can be arranged with Guard runners at their deployed location, including Staff Sgt. Nikolas Guttormson, 119th Civil Engineer Squadron, who has been coordinating efforts in Southwest Asia. To arrange an interview, contact Staff Sgt. Amy Wieser Willson at 701-451-2273 (office) or 701-412-6895 (cell).
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,800 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. About 70 percent of all members serving today have joined since that time. Currently, nearly 400 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while about 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that’s more than four times the national average.
Contacts: Dan Murphy at 701-333-2007 (office) or 701-426-0190 (cell)Amy Wieser Willson at 701-451-2273 (office) or 701-412-6895 (cell)
For more informationNorth Dakota Air National Guard Engineers Leave on Six-Month Deployment (Dec. 16, 2011)
Photos of last year’s TAPS Run & Remember Team event: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ndguard/sets/72157626766640164/with/5751892925/
Videos of last year’s TAPS Run & Remember Team event: http://youtu.be/wH-mjoqcPjE and http://youtu.be/fJYvrorNskg
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