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122-mile run ends in Columbia with touching tribute to Gold Star families

A journey from Charleston to the State House ended with a special moment between runners and six families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Run for the Fallen ended its three-day trek from Charleston to the South Carolina State House in Columbia on Sunday, bringing with it a message of hope.

The run returned this year to its normal capacity after being shortened due to the pandemic in 2020. In the end, Gold Star families were presented with their own personalized flags for the ones they lost.

The Rowland family was just one of the six who were honored with a flag – theirs in memory of Sgt. 1st Class Phil Roland.

“It means a lot that people come out to honor fallen heroes one mile at a time,” said Tim Derrick who joined the Rowlands for the occasion. “It means a lot to our family”

The run took three days and covered 122 miles. But the runners said it was worth it.

“Every mile we will stop do a little presentation, present a little small flag like we did here, just to pay tribute to those heroes at those mile markers,” said Brian Hicks.

Hicks retired from the U.S. Army and now works as a firefighter.

Laura Sutton with Honor and Remember Inc. explained how the dedication of those running made the event even better.

“They were 40 minutes ahead every single day,” she said. “They were so excited about the mission and so excited to get it done and meet the families and get here and give the families the personalized flags to remember the fallen.”

It was a difficult journey, but to those involved, it was a chance to restore a feeling of hope.

“Seeing the families out there, that just means the world to us,” Sutton said. “And seeing them read the names and hug the family members just means the world to us.”

Sutton added the run will take place again this time next year.

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