Six soldiers who died in the line of duty – including two from Starke County – are being honored with a memorial run in Valparaiso. The Sapper Six Memorial Race will honor the members of the Indiana National Guard 713th Engineer Company based in Valparaiso who died while deployed in Afghanistan in 2012.
Event organizer Chuck Leonhardt says the loss of these soldiers hits close to home for the Starke County community, “One of my younger brothers was actually Sgt. Brian Leonhardt that did not return home, and Spc. Robert Tauteris grew up in the area and still has lots of family that lives between North Judson and Grovertown.”
The event includes both a 5k race as well as a 3k fun run/walk. Leonhardt says it’s a way to keep their memories alive, “We feel like something should be done. You know, we just don’t want these guys to be forgotten. So it’s an event that we’ve created to remember them, one, and bring the community together, two, and just come out and, even for one night, just remember these six guys.”
But he says it will also help those left behind, “What we’re doing is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from this to an organization called Folds of Honor Foundation. Folds of Honor helps with scholarships for the spouses and children of fallen and wounded soldiers and also disabled veterans.”
The event’s being held Saturday at Central Park Plaza in downtown Valparaiso, starting with registration at 4:00 p.m. The race itself will start at 5:00 p.m., followed by the fun run/walk at about 5:15, and Leonhardt says there’s even more planned, “Once that’s done, we’ll have the awards for the race. We’ve got a 70-inch smart TV that we’ll be raffling off afterwards and there will be another few raffles going on with plenty of vendors and food and drinks, and we’ve got the Hobart High School Wolf Gang band there to perform. So it should be a good time.”
For more information, to donate, or to sign up for the run online, visit www.fohnwi.com.