A Reason to Run

  • Published
  • By Amy Oliver
  • 1 SOW Public Affairs
It's said that with enough initiative, motivation and determination, you can do anything to which you set your mind. I was reminded of this fact last week when I learned about a young Hurlburt Field Airman with a big plan and an impressive follow-through. 

Last fall, then Senior Airman Ronni Russell, an electronic systems security assessment senior analyst from the 68th Information Operations Squadron, asked me how she should go about setting up a run to honor Florida's fallen armed forces members. 

I inquired with the area's United Service Organization on her behalf, and was told the project was too large for them to take on. 

I told her it was a great idea, but one the base should not own. I recommended she find a monetary backer to assist her with this endeavor and sent her on her way, honestly half-expecting it to be the last time I heard from her. 

Then, to my surprise, now Staff Sgt. Russell, came back to me last week with not only a backer, but a date and location for the run and two confirmed charities the race would benefit, both of which support the quality of life of service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. She sent me not only the flyer she had made for the event, but also the legal paperwork granting her permission to hold the race on base. 

Still, because of our Air Force Instructions, Public Affairs cannot advertise private organization's fundraisers, even if it's a good cause. So I pointed her in the direction of the two privately-owned, Hurlburt-centric newspapers. 

I wondered what drove her to bring this idea to fruition when most people would realize how much work it involved and would quit. 

Turns out Sergeant Russell's brother-in-law was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in March 2007. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is. 

Sergeant Russell's mother-in-law learned about the National Run for the Fallen that began last Jun. 14 with participants running across the country, one mile for each service member killed in OPERATION Iraqi Freedom or OPERATION Enduring Freedom. She was upset that she was unable to run her son's mile because it took place too far from where she lived. So she set up a similar race in North Carolina. By holding the race her own state, families had better accessibility to the run in order to honor their loved ones. 

The families of North Carolina's fallen service members appreciated it. Sergeant Russell's mother-in-law suggested she set up a similar race for Florida's fallen. 

Sergeant Russell has spent the past four months coordinating the event, doing most of the legwork on her own. She hopes to make this an annual event, and with the help of her backer, hold it off-base in the future so local community members can participate. 

If your unit is looking for a good, organized physical training activity on the morning of Jun. 26, I know of a race that will benefit a good cause, one near and dear to many of our own hearts. It starts at 7 a.m. next to the Aderholt Gym. To sign up, keep your eyes peeled for Sergeant Russell's advertisement in the local newspapers.