What defines a Hero? Growing up as a kid you might look to superheroes with special abilities or maybe your favorite athlete with the flashy cars and big houses. As you get older one might look to a family member who’s overcome certain adversities or maybe someone you know who once served for his/her country in the Military. Former Arizona Cardinals and US Army Ranger Pat Tillman recalls his great grandfather serving at Pearl Harbor while other family members battled in other wars for their country.
Although he had accomplished so much within his early football career, Tillman never felt satisfied, in an interview he said “I haven’t done a darn thing as far as laying myself on the line like that” while including how much respect he has for the people who has served and what the flag stands for. The attacks on 9/11 changed the way Tillman viewed life…. It changed the world as we knew it. Tillman decided to put his professional career on hold in order to join the U.S. military. “Sports embodied many of the qualities I deem meaningful,” he said in 2002. “However, these last few years, and especially after recent events, I’ve come to appreciate just how shallow and insignificant my role is . . . It’s no longer important.”
He would walk away from a multi-year / multi-million dollar contract from the Arizona Cardinals to pursue the next chapter in his life… only not knowing how the story would end. He would enlist in the US Army and have a couple tours in Iraq but would later get assigned to duty in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2004 which he would later die in what was called “friendly fire”.
His death has many twist and turns behind conspiracies and theories however unfortunately we’ll never know the truth about what happened in those mountains. His name will forever be known as the football player turned soldier, a symbol of how one shouldn’t let money or fame define who they are as a person. His patriotism and love for his country will be remember by so many people outside the world of football.
He would become a symbol of how people should live their lives and by that I mean not afraid of taking risks… overcoming obstacles and following your heart. Being able to live life with the spotlight on you is one thing… but being able to walk in the darkness and knowing who you are is something no one can help you achieve.
The Pat Tillman Foundation, founded in 2004 by friends and family after Tillman’s death, uses funds for educational scholarships to aid military veterans and their spouses to build a leadership community helping others. Scholars display commitment to their work in society by guidance from a personal vision of positive change.
Pat’s Run is the a fundraising event for the Pat Tillman Foundation. Held annually in April at Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium, the event attracts more than 35,000 participants, volunteers and spectators from across the country. Together they Run, Walk and Honor Pat’s legacy while raising important funds to support the programs created to pay tribute to his commitment to leadership and service.
Pat’s Run features a 4.2 mile run/walk, a .42 mile Kids Run for children 12 and under and a Finish Line Expo. The 4.2 mile course winds through the streets of Tempe and both events are staged so that all participants finish on the 42-yard line on Frank Kush Field inside Sun Devil Stadium, symbolic of the #42 jersey that Pat wore while he was a Sun Devil. Proceeds from Pat’s Run directly support the Tillman Military Scholars program.
The 10th Annual Pat’s Run will take place Saturday, April 26th at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona
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