Fifteen-year Oro Valley resident Bonnie Quinn is recognized as this month’s Helping Hand volunteer for her role in helping organize the state’s first annual Arizona Run For the Fallen this month.
In conjunction with Honor and Remember, a national campaign of remembrance, Run For the Fallen is a tribute run that honors soldiers who lost their lives while in the line of duty.
This is the sixth year the event has taken place in cities across the nation.
Quinn was instrumental in making the 146-mile three-day run in Arizona a success in its first year, working with the Oro Valley Police Department and local businesses to organize a route and ensure safe travel for the active duty military men and women who participated in the event.
In addition to promoting the event, Quinn and her husband drove alongside the runners, offering food, water, and a place to rejuvenate in their RV before the soldiers continued their rotation. The runners, carrying U.S., Arizona, and Honor and Remember flags, traded off running distances between hero markers that were placed a mile apart for the length of the race.
At each marker, the runners stopped, read a brief bio and saluted the Gold Star family members who have lost a loved one in the military.
“The importance of this is that it gives an opportunity to say thank you to a Gold Star family, and that means everything for them that we are out there remembering,” said Quinn. “This is all about bringing recognition to families that we haven’t forgotten your child or loved one.”
Flags flapped in the wind as soldiers ran against stunning views along Oracle Road with the Pusch Ridge mountainside in the background.
“I’ll never look at Oracle Road in the same way,” said Quinn. “It was such a striking sight.”
An Apache helicopter flew overhead as runners approached the Pinal County line, and paramedics followed the runners to ensure their safety. The Oro Valley Police Department also helped escort the runners from the start line in Freedom Park on Tucson’s south side. Additionally, they helped make business owners along Oracle Road aware the event was coming through Oro Valley.
The run ended at the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza in Phoenix.
All the partnerships painted an accurate picture of how respected America’s military men and women are, says Quinn.
“It was an honor to follow and protect them,” said Quinn. “We rely on them so much to have our backs that it’s great to give that back to them.”
Quinn and her husband, who do not have any active duty military in their family, have also helped support soldiers in the past by sending food and care packages to deployed soldiers.
“We like to be a positive footprint in the community,” said Quinn. “You need to step outside yourself to appreciate that your problems aren’t so great, that nothing is so bad you can’t help someone. Thinking about others is a good way to turn the focus off of ourselves.”
The event will take place each year moving forward, and next year will occur mid-October.
Visit www.azrunforthefallen.org. for more information.