One Marine's memorial: day of racing to honor veterans' service
Ryan Jerabek's parents helped organize an annual footrace that traces the route run by their son, a Marine killed in Iraq. The event honors those who serve in the US armed forces.
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Parallel runs have been held by about 100 service personnel and civilians – including the US ambassador to Iraq – in Baghdad’s Green Zone. Airmen at Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, Texas, ran their own Jerabek Challenge. And about 80 sailors from the San Diego-based USS Green Bay went to the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton to run the race.Skip to next paragraph
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“It’s such an exciting day to see everybody gather in support of our troops, to remember the fallen, and to say ‘thank you’ to our military,” says Jerabek, who’s a nurse practitioner at a rural family practice clinic.
Rita Jerabek is also active with Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages to troops serving overseas, and with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
These days Rita and Ken Jerabek have new concerns as well. Their youngest son Nick followed in his older brother’s boot steps. He’s a Marine Corps corporal now serving in Afghanistan.
Has the Jerabek Challenge helped ease the loss of Ryan?
Pausing, Jerabek says, “Yes, it has.”
“Sometimes it’s overwhelming,” she goes on. “But then I remember that it’s helping other people, so it is healing for me. And for me, it was important to do something that I think Ryan would be really proud of.”
“It’s helped his brothers too,” she adds, noting that with the run Ryan’s friends, Marine Corps buddies, and a growing number of strangers “in a spiritual way are retracing his steps.”