On a misty Saturday morning in Middletown, names of Connecticut’s fallen service members were read out loud.
“The sacrifice they do. This is the least I could do,” said Lai Sun of Newtown.
From 6 a.m. in the morning until 1 p.m. in the afternoon, more names were read at the top of every hour, before a group of runners took off through the streets of Middletown waving the red, white, and blue. Hundreds of runners tied up their laces for the sixth annual Run for the Fallen CT.
The event was free to participate in, but many like Sun used it to raise money for military organizations. This year he donated $7,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project.
“This is great. I’m not running for time. I’m just out there be with the families, be with the runners, and the cause,” said Sun.
Director Cliff Paquette became involved in the organization after deciding to run 52 miles, one for each Connecticut service member killed since Sept. 11. A year later, the mission became personal when his friend Staff Sgt. Frank Adamski III was killed in Afghanistan.
“Frankie was one of those people who shine. He had the biggest brightest smile. He just loved everybody,” said Paquette.
Since then, the number of Connecticut service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan has grown, to 65. Over seven hours runners covered 65 kilometers, ending at a walking path filled with flowers, flags, and photos of the fallen, paying tribute to hometown heroes like Dennis Pratt.
“He was definitely a person that when you met him he left a mark forever,” said his niece Miranda Pratt.
The Southington graduate was killed by an IED in Afghanistan in 2009. The Pratt family volunteers for this event every year.
“For me it’s so emotional both in a good and saddening way that this is the way the community comes together for such a sad event but that they’re still there, they’re still supporting and that means so much to me and for so many others,” she added.