Fallen heroes remembered with flags during Fort4Fitness

Flags 4 Fallen Founder Richard Clark folds a flag after running during the Fort 4 Fitness Fall Festival.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Thousands of stories emerge from the Fort4Fitness race routes. Among them, Flags 4 Fallen, honoring those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Flags4Fallen started 5 years ago with one runner, Saturday several people in each race, carried flags honoring servicemen and one firefighter.

“It’s indescribable,” Flags 4 Fallen Founder Richard Clark said. “Something about carrying that flag… the race hurts, I’m 51 years old, I have no business doing a lot of these, because I’m not in that great of shape, but something about that flag just makes you forget about it.”

Clark breathed a sigh of relief and shared an embrace with a Gold Star mother, after completing his half-marathon. He carried a picture of David Kirkpatrick, a 20-year-old killed in Iraq.

“I ran across a picture of him and he was so young and I just thought I should contact her,” Clark said while fighting back tears.

“We appreciate it so much,” Kirkpatrick’s mother, Rhonda responded. “We don’t want to forget our son and any of our fallen soldiers. We appreciate him taking the time and getting ahold of us and doing this to remember our son.”

After each of the runners crossed the finish line, they folded the flags they carried and presented them to family members of those they honored.

Among the others who ran, Alyssa Ivanson. She honored Fort Wayne Fire Captain Eric Balliet by handing her flag to a firefighter and her bib to a sheriff’s deputy.

Hannah Strong also took part, remembering Marine David Grames Sanchez.

“This has been quite an honor,” David Grames said about his son being recognized. “It’s kind of overwhelming to see all of these people show up. We feel very honored to be here for David and all the other veterans who sacrafice their lives. We really appreciate this.”

If you want to discover more stories about those honored in the run, look for Flags 4 Fallen on Facebook.