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450 for the Fallen: Running for Those Left Behind

A Relay held for Children of Fallen Patriots

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Greenwich, CT | Added on May 24, 2014 At 07:23 PM

"We're at the Minuteman Statue, right there, and that's the Children of Fallen Patriots emblem. And, we are about to take these dog tags to DC.  It's about 450 miles.  We'll see you there," said Lance Svendsen and Todd Kelley. 

It's a run to raise awareness, supporting the non-profit: Children of Fallen Patriots.  It’s a group providing college scholarships to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. 

"I like to say I'm doing this run of 450 miles and that immediately gets someone's attention, like what are you doing?  I feel like this is one of my super small ways of giving back.  Like hey, I've never served.  I've never gone overseas and spent all the time there.  But, I can run," said Svendsen.

"Just running all by ourselves in the middle of the night with the car chasing behind us with the police escort.  It just felt really powerful - carrying the American flag," said Cynthia Kim.

Cynthia and her husband, David, are the founders of Children of Fallen Patriots. Both of them became aware of the needs of those left behind after David's time serving in Panama, when one of the men in his unit was killed.

"He had a young wife and she was pregnant and his daughter was born three months after his death.  So, my husband was always struck by the tragedy and years later decided to do something for people like her and started Children of Fallen Patriots," explained Cynthia.

 Becoming an official non-profit in 2002, today it’s given away over 7 million dollars to those left behind.

"When we call them and tell them, work hard. If you get into Harvard, we will pay for it.  It gives them a sense of hope and it restores their faith in our country and it gives their parents' sacrifice a new meaning,"said Kim.

This weekend’s relay is the latest event to raise awareness and funds. And here’s how it works: It’s a continuous run, involving shifts. So, each runner signing up could run anywhere from 3 to 11 miles, passing along dog tags between each meet-up.

"So we met about 6 months ago to start talking about the 450 and then it became this dream.  And we were like, let's start in Massachusttes. And, the we were like, should we run to Florida - where do we run? How far away do we want this thing.  That was one of the first challenges - but still fun.  So, we put the map together to make sure we knew where we were running to.  I had to make sure we weren't running through Central Park at a scary time," said Svendsen.

More than 100 people are joining in on the relay.  And, so far more than ten thousand dollars has been raised.

"My legs are sore, my body hurts, but my heart is full.  It's been one of the best running experiences of my life," said runner Todd Kelley. 

"You are giving a kid a chance they probably wouldn't have had.  For many, they are the first ones to go to college from their family.  So it gives them a new direction in their life, they are very grateful and they are going to do something even bigger with it," said Kim. 

The relay’s last leg will be this Monday, running past the Arlington National Cemetery and finishing at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial.


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