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Runners honor the fallen

Weekly outings keeps participants fit, shows support for military families

Published: 01:12PM March 3rd, 2011

Ingrid Barrentine

Adriana Sparks pauses to read the names of fallen Soldiers from 5th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. during the “wear blue: run to remember” last week at Powderworks Park in DuPont.

Upon meeting Nancy Pardo, one might find it hard to believe that the noticeably fit woman used to hate running and struggled to jog short distances.

That changed a few months ago after one of Pardo’s friends encouraged her to link up with the local running group, “wear blue: run to remember.”

The DuPont resident frequently saw members of the group running through her neighborhood, and subsequently, her interest in the group grew. She began attending the group’s weekend runs late last year, and within weeks noticed a change in her body and attitude towards running.

“I went from not being able to run from the end of my driveway without nearly collapsing to being able to run 10 miles today,” Pardo said.

She attended a kickoff dinner for the group in January, which Pardo said helped seal her commitment to the group.

“I felt a little bit like an outsider at first – like these are all Army wives, and they’ve been through a lot, you know – like I’m not really going to fit in,” Pardo said.

To her surprise, Pardo felt accepted almost immediately.

“That feeling of uncertainty dissipated within 10 minutes of being there,” she said. “I felt right at home. Everyone was so welcoming.”

“Wear blue: run to remember” was formed by a group of Army wives whose husbands were deployed with a unit which suffered casualties of historic proportions. The group’s founder, Lisa Hallett, lost her husband, Capt. John Hallett III, when he was killed Aug. 25, 2009. John was one of 40 others assigned to 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, now 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the brigade’s yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.

The group began as a support group for wives dealing with the burdens of a stressful deployment. It has since grown to include runners, joggers and walkers reaching all demographics.

“We’re not a wives group anymore,” Lisa said. “We’re Soldiers, Airmen, spouses, Wounded Warriors, Gold Star families, community members – we’re all coming together to honor the service and sacrifices of our fallen while building a bridge between the military and civilian communities.”

Whether you are a beginning runner or walker, training for a marathon or simply want to show support for the military, everybody is welcome to join “wear blue: run to remember.”

The group meets every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. in Powderworks Park, across from Pioneer Middle School, in DuPont. There are three different courses – all marked and with water stations – for runners and walkers of all abilities. Strollers and pets are also welcome. The only stipulation is that Lisa requests participants wear blue – the color her husband’s unit often wore for PT.

“Our hope is that someday every person who sees or wears that blue recognizes and appreciates the service and sacrifice of the American military,” Lisa said.

After stretching and mingling prior to the 9 a.m. start, a wave of blue moves to the basketball court for welcoming remarks by Lisa or one of the group’s cofounders. Going around the circle of people gathered, each person introduces themself by first name. Once introductions are completed, there is a moment of silence. The names of 5th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div.’s 41 fallen are read, followed by an opportunity for anyone to say the names of additional fallen heroes. These are moments that motivate runners like 2nd Lt. Ben Hunter to return each week.

“It’s really powerful when they start calling out names,” said Hunter, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. “This group is all about the (servicemembers) who are fighting or who have fallen. Once I made that connection, it had a strong meaning for me.”

Hunter found out about the group through his wife, who befriended some of the runners last year during Hunter’s deployment.

“It was great for my wife because immediately she made close friends who had a connection with military life,” Hunter said. “She felt great about coming out and supporting Lisa, plus it was a way for her to cope with me being away.”

Hunter is among dozens of runners who participate in “wear blue: run to remember” each week. He supports the group’s mission, and has vowed not to forget his fellow servicemembers’ sacrifices.

“We’ve been in this war for a good period of time, and it’s almost like it’s just become something that’s going on,” Hunter said. “It’s easy to keep going on with your daily life and not realize that everyday there are still Soldiers sacrificing every minute of every day, allowing people to go on with their lives.”

Forty-two flags mark the course – 41 of them bearing the fallen Soldiers from 5th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div., with the 42nd representing all other fallen servicemembers. They are symbolic reminders of the price Lisa’s husband and thousands of others have paid.

“‘Run to Remember’ is an incredibly tangible way for people – whether they’re military or not – to come together and say, ‘I really appreciate what the military does and the sacrifices the families are willing to make,’” Lisa said.

“It’s two-fold,” Hunter added. “One, you’re getting a good workout, and then two, you’re serving by doing something worthwhile.”

To learn more

“Wear blue: run to remember” is mostly about showing support for the troops and bridging gaps between the military and civilian communities, but it is also about having fun and getting a good workout.

The group has formally filed for nonprofit status, and can legally operate as a nonprofit organization. It is a giant step towards Lisa Hallet’s goal of setting up new chapters across the nation.

“We want to support this community of runners and bridge the community, so it allows us to fill the education piece, continue to open new chapters and meet our basic operating costs,” said Hallett, founder of “wear blue: run to remember.”

In addition to participating in weekly runs, there are many other ways people can get involved. The group is in the process of building teams for the Seattle Rock and Roll Full and Half Marathon June 25, and is in need of volunteers to fill an array of positions.

“It’s going to be an incredible day,” Hallett said of the marathon in June, “but there is a lot of planning involved and we are going to need a lot of help.”

The group also relies on volunteers to help with marking courses and setting up water points during weekly runs.

For more information on how to get involved or to donate, visit to the group’s website at: or find them on Facebook.

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"wear blue: run to remember"