JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Every runner in Saturday’s Wounded Warrior Project 5K had a personal reason to “Carry Forward.”
More than 2,000 participants and volunteers showed their support for those who served, those who overcame and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Luis Alicea, who is now retired, served for 21 years and was injured during combat. He runs in memory of his roommate, Sgt. Aaron A. Smith, who was killed by a suicide bomber in 2006.
“He was a very positive individual. I know that he would not be here wanting us to always be grieving. He wants us to celebrate,” Alicea said. “He was a big physical training guy. He was always running. I think this is the best way we can remember him by.”
The goal for the WWP 5K this year was to raise $250,000 to help the nonprofit continue its work providing services and programs for veterans and their families.
A WWP spokesperson shared with News4JAX that the event had raised $223,308 as of 5 p.m. Saturday. The top fundraiser squad, which raised more than $9,000, was from CSX.
Brea Todd, the vice president of business development for WWP, was amazed by the response.
“What that says to me is people care,” Todd said. “People care about veterans. People care about warriors, and they know the service and sacrifice that these men, women, and their families have made.”
Another hero to understand sacrifice is Danielle Green. She lost her left arm during an attack while on patrol in Baghdad 19 years ago. She honors those who saved her that fateful day.
“When I think about ‘Carry Forward,’ I carry those soldiers in my heart that risked their lives to come up there to save my life,” Green said.
She said she always wants to send a message of hope to her fellow veterans.
“I have an obligation to live my life to the very best of my ability and inspire people,” Green said. “To say, ‘No matter what you are going through, no matter what setbacks you are going through, you can persevere.’”
The Carry Forward efforts continue yearlong, and supporters have the ability to host their own event locally or virtually, visit CarryForward.WoundedWarriorProject.org for more information.