OGUNQUIT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- What started as a one-time local tie-in to a national rememberance run, has now become an annual event honoring service members with Maine ties killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Run for the Fallen will start at Veteran's Park in Ogunquit Center and follow a route up Route One to Portland's Monument Square on Sunday morning. The 3rd annual event is more than just a 65 kilometer run - one kilometer for each man and woman killed in the War on Terror since 9/11/2001 - but a chance for people to take time and remember those who sacrificed their lives.
"It is spontaneous. It is powerful," said one of the run's organizers Gordon Lewis. "We are all part of a family and we will remember them."
The event has also become a chance for family members who have experienced loss to come together and support one another.
"After the first year that we had it, when we finished in Monument Square, I saw a lot of the family members just standing around looking at each other," explained John Mixon, the run's driving force. "It was put together so hastily that first year, that we didn't have that opportunity, and I hadn't realized that a lot of the families had never met each other."
Last year, family members and runners were invited to a post-race lobster bake to meet, eat and talk about their loved one and their experiences. The event was so successful that organizers expect the number of family members attending to be more than double last year's total.
"It is very comforting to know that there are people who care," said Nancy Jusseaume, who's brother Sgt. Jeremiah Holmes was killed by an IED in Iraq in 2004.
"You see all the protests and everything and then you see this. All the negative is forgotten. It is just love and patriotism, really. It was so inspiring to see regular people running for the memory of our loved one."
The Run for the Fallen begins with a ceremony at Veteran's Park in Ogunquit Center at 7:45 in the morning on August 22nd. The runners will be following Route One for most of the run and will cross the Casco Bay Bridge before finishing in Monument Square in Portland between 2 and 3 in the afternoon.
Runners are encouraged to join in anywhere along the route and run as far as they like. There is no registration needed and there are no fees to run. If you'd like more information about the run, you can find the Run for the Fallen website by clicking here.