The Pat Tillman Run, a 4.2-mile run that so many people in Arizona identify with, is set for April 26 at 7:05 a.m. next to the Arizona State University Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
This year, Pat’s Run is celebrating its 10th run for the legendary ASU football player and military hero, Pat Tillman, who died in Afghanistan in 2004, while serving the U.S. Army.
“Pat’s life and legacy continue to affect so many people in a positive way,” said Suzanne Reddie, vice president of operations at the Pat Tillman Foundation. “He’s an everyday leader and hero to many because he always did what he felt was the ‘right thing to do,’ not always the easiest or popular thing to do.”
The Pat Tillman Foundation starts preparing for the race as early as the August in the prior year.
“One of the first things we have to do is secure the race shirts and get all of our suppliers lined up for the event,” Reddie said. “So, we work with a committee of about 30 people, only four of us are employees and the rest of us are volunteers.”
The run will also feature a Kids Run that is $5, beginning at 9:45 a.m. next to Sun Devil Stadium and ending at the 42-yard line of the Frank Kush Field, inside the stadium.
“For the 10th anniversary of Pat’s Run, you’ll see much of what participants have seen in the past,” Reddie said. “There will be a 0.42 Kids Run for kids 12 and under, the same 4.2 course and 42-yard line finish, expo open before and after the race with vendors, samples, giveaways and Kids Corner.”
This year, new race apparel will be added to each person’s registration and there will be an empowering new theme for the run.
“We are offering a maroon package and a special edition 10th anniversary T-shirt, Reddie said. “The T-shirt has a really cool design on the front and on the back, it will list all the past runs from the nine years, and this year’s run.”
The Pat Tillman Foundation chose “Never Stop” to be this year’s theme. Reddie and her committee chose this theme to empower people to never stop improving, learning and growing in their lives.
“We want the Tillman community of supporters to adopt a never-stop attitude and use their experience at Pat’s Run to commit to something that improves your life and that of others,” Reddie said.
The run has gained popularity over the past nine years. Shawn Knadler and his family have participated for the past nine years and are planning to run again this year.
“Pat’s Run has seen my wife and I transform from a dating couple to a family of five, with three young boys,” said Sean Knadler, Psy. D, clinical associate for Nicoletti-Flater Associates. “For our boys, it is more than just a run, it is and will remain a family tradition where we support our military heroes, reconnect with old friends, and spend time talking about a true ‘superhero.’”
With the help of a mentor, Knadler has partnered with an agency dedicated to providing clinical support for military veterans.
“We are also in the process of developing a community-based, veteran specific, trauma treatment and reintegration program” Knadler said.
The run is open to all runners, regardless of what athletic level you may be. The popularity of the race continues to grow because it honors people in the military, whether they are veterans or are serving.
“Participants are the most diverse group that you will encounter in a race,” Reddie said. “The appeal of the run continues to grow because of the special vibe one experiences for those few early morning hours — from the trumpeted national anthem to the release of 28 corrals of runner and walkers to a course full of people to the exciting finish in the Sun Devil Stadium to the post-race expo and Kids Corner activities.”
The foundation has been able to fund the Tillman Military Scholar program with registration from participants. This program enables students who are either active-duty service members, veterans or spouses to attend higher education in several universities across the United States.
“We have been able to invest $4.6 million in scholarship aid to 290 scholars attending 85 different universities at all levels of higher education — undergraduate, graduate, Ph.D., J.D. and M.D.,” Reddie said.
Casaundra Wallace, a Tillman Military Scholar and veteran, said the scholarship has helped her toward pursuing a law degree at Arizona State University.
“The foundation expects us to go to school, get good grades and continue to serve our community, and that is what all of the scholars do,” Wallace said. “Being a Tillman Military Scholar makes you a part of a bigger community, and all of the scholars know each other.”
• Angela Crusco is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is interning this semester for the AFN.