Special Photo. Participants in the fifth Special Operations Forces Run seen near the finish line at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday. The annual 600-mile, relay-type run honors special operations troops. This year's run was dedicated to Air Force Staff Sgt. Shaun Meadows, a Winder-Barrow High School graduate who lost his legs in an IED explosion.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- The fifth Special Operations Forces Run honoring a local airman injured in combat went off without a hitch, despite patches of bad weather along the way.
"We pretty much dodged the majority of rain, but everyone got to taste a little bit of the weather," said Duluth police Lt. Bill Stevens, who originally organized the run to teach his young son respect for service members.
Each annual event is dedicated to the military's special forces units.
This year, the 600-mile, relay-type run began in Duluth and ended at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla. It honored Staff Sgt. Shaun Meadows, a Winder-Barrow High School graduate who lost his legs when the vehicle he was traveling in hit an IED.
Meadows was unable to attend the run because he had to return to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington for treatment, but his mother, Sherry Fields, a Gwinnett County Police crime analyst, and his stepfather, Ron, a recently retired Gwinnett County firefighter, wouldn't have missed it.
A highlight, Stevenson said, was being joined by Marine Brig. Gen. Mark Clark of the U.S. Special Operations Command, about 120 miles into the journey.
"This was the first time a general officer came out and really ran the hard part with us," Stevens said. "He ran for three hours solid."
Stevenson is also the founder of Operation One Voice, designed to provide financial assistance to the families of wounded and fallen special operations troops. While the SOF Run is intended solely to honor, OOV has been busy fundraising, too.
The organization will soon ship Trek bikes to six service members to help them in their rehabilitation. As part of its Operation St. Nick program, it will also give $100 gift cards to 200 special operations families that "need a little assistance this Christmas."
Like the military itself, Stevens said OOV operates through camaraderie and team work.
"Our work is made possible by those that love this country and believe in supporting our special operations families," he said.
For more information, or to donate, log on to www.operationonevoice.com.