The foundation, Maine Fallen Heroes, held its inaugural memorial run in Brunswick, Maine this past weekend at the Brunswick Recreation Center. An untimed 5K run/walk and a timed 10K were the main events honoring the fallen and their families.
The Maine Fallen Heroes Foundation took over the mission from Run for the Fallen, which was started nine years ago. The mission continues to help the families of the fallen with financial and emotional support. The MFHF’s website offers ways to contact people for support.
“Run for the Fallen went into retirement,” says Dean Barron, the President and Founder of the Maine Fallen Heroes Foundation, “and I decided to carry on the torch so to speak. The MFHF was formed in late 2015.”
Dean has a personal connection to the foundation that he took over. His son, CPL Joshua Barron, is his fallen hero.
Joshua and 94 other heroes had their pictures lining the 3.1-mile course on Saturday for people to see as they ran past. If the families of the fallen were present, then they had the choice to stand next to their hero if they didn’t want to participate in the race. Many people showed their appreciation by stopping and shaking hands with the family members who were present and giving their thanks for the fallen heroes’ service.
The event started at 9:00 a.m. with an opening ceremony and words from Adria Horn, Director of Maine’s Bureau of Veterans’ Services. “We are here because a very select few people donated their family to us, and those people became members of an exclusive club, a club that they didn’t want to join, a club that they joined without their permission, and often times without their knowledge.”
“These races are a great opportunity to bring the community together,” says Aviation Ordnanceman First Class Petty Officer Stephen Sterling of the United States Navy, “and honor the men and women who have served in the military and given their all.”
“It’s also a great way to promote physical fitness,” says the 12-year enlisted service member currently deployed on the USS Wasp.
The activities scheduled for the day included the 10K race that started at 10 a.m. and the 5K race that started at 10:15 a.m. After those events, there was a lunch put on by the volunteers of the MFHF and activities for children, including a 70’ inflatable obstacle course.
“It’s a special day for many of us,” said Dean, “who have lost a son or a daughter, a father or a mother, aunt, uncle, what have you.”
Hundreds of people showed up to run, support the families, and pay their respects to the fallen. Dozens of active duty service members were present, including the National Guard, who volunteered to help with parking, directions, and inflating the 70’ obstacle course.
The new Maine Fallen Heroes’ non-profit foundation is working hard to push forward with events for 2016. Dean Barron says that this event was the first of many to come, and will be an annual race event.
As far as the proceeds, Barron says, “all funds raised go directly to helping the families of our fallen. We also hand out (3) $1000 scholarships to the families of our fallen for college.”
For more information or to donate, please visit www.mainefallenheroes.org.