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Hero Half Saturday to honor veterans with much more than just a run


May 23, 2018

The sixth annual Hero Half race series in Sweet Home this Saturday will once again focus heavily on honoring veterans and, especially, service men and women who have fallen in action.

The event includes a half marathon and 8K (roughly 5 miles) runs and a 1.3-mile trail run/walk for kids and adults who don’t want to take on the longer distances. The event starts and finishes at Community Chapel, 42250 Ames Creek Drive.

“Our registration is up a little bit,” said Co-Director Marci Sullens. “It’s been a little surprise.”

Founder Rachel Kittson-MaQatish, a local attorney who is running for a district judge seat and has moved to Lebanon, said she is co-directing the event with Sullens, who, Kittson-MaQatish said, will eventually take over as race director.

Kittson-MaQatish founded the event in 2013 after learning of a family, who included her own son-in-law, who were grieving the death of a young soldier, Cpl. Keaton Coffey from Boring, who was killed in 2012, just weeks before his wedding.

A scholarship in Coffey’s name has been funded with race proceeds and funds raised will now go as well to the Sweet Home Alumni Association for local scholarships for high school graduates, in the name of other fallen servicemen, she said.

“One of the really cool things is that the proceeds are going to an endowed scholarship,” Kittson-MaQatish said. “That’s our new model.”

The goal will be to raise $15,000 every two years, which will go to a separate scholarship. This year’s will be named after Marine Lance Cpl. Dale Peterson, from Burns, Sullens’ brother, who was killed in 2007 in Iraq, MaQatish said.

“Then we’ll move on to another family. Our goal is to raise half of the $15,000 this year, half next year.”

She said the event has raised at least $14,000 each year, not counting funds reserved for future operating expenses.

Kittson-MaQatish encouraged families with members in the service, and especially those who have suffered losses due to military service, to attend the event.

“We’ve had five Gold Star families each year,” she said, noting that the family of Scot Noss, a Lebanon High School alum who joined the Army Rangers and was severely injured in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2007, has participated.

“We do encourage anyone in community whom we haven’t reached out to, who have lost a brother or sister, or someone else, to come. Any Gold or Silver Star family. They just need to let us know.”

The event has provided lodging for such families, she said.

The half marathon will start and finish on the Community Chapel grounds and will be run largely on local roads.

Runners will cross Weddle Bridge and pass through Sankey Park, then will wind through neighborhoods until they reach the middle leg of South Hills Trail behind Oak Heights School, which they will take to Old Holley Road. Turning right on Old Holley, they will climb the hill, splitting away from the 8K course, and will run to Holley Church where they will turn around, heading back to Sweet Home and will turn right, through the Canyon Creek development and onto the east end of South Hills Trail and back to Community Chapel.

The 8K course follows the half marathon to Old Holley, then returns on Elm Street to Community Chapel. The trail run/walk is entirely on the Community Chapel grounds. All finishers receive medals. Awards will go to the top three male and female finishers in both the Half and 8K and to the largest team.

Registration can take place on site, at 8:30 a.m., or in advance at Packet pick-up is from noon till 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Chamber of Commerce, 1575 Main St., or starting at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the chapel. Team participants are welcome and strawberry shortcake will be served to the race team with the most members.

This year’s event will also include an Honor Loop, in which veterans, many from the Veterans Home in Lebanon, complete a loop from the start/finish line at Community Chapel to the end of the chapel driveway and back, with the help of an attendant if needed.

Title sponsors this year are T2 Trucking and Kittson-MaQatish’s Morley Thomas Law Firm, which have sponsored the race since the beginning, she said, along with Samaritan Health, Weyerhaeuser and Santiam Spray, which is owned by Sullens’ husband Kyle.

Support has come from others, she said.

“There are quite a few big groups putting money into it, which is nice.”

There will be other activities in addition to the races, she said.

Kittson-MaQatish’s classmate from the Sweet Home High School graduating class of 1989, Mary Bennett Smith, will perform the national anthem.

A raffle will be held and Umpqua Bank will serve up free ice cream after the race.

The kids activity area is being expanded, with two inflatable obstacle courses, sponsored by Weyerhaeuser, because the number of families participating has grown steadily, Sullens and Kittson-MaQatish said.

Sweet Home Ranger District will have a station at which event participants will be encouraged to make Christmas ornaments for the Capitol Christmas Tree (see story on page 3 and 75 smaller trees that will be sent to the U.S. Capitol in November to be displayed there.

Also, East Linn Treasure Seekers club is planning to offer a treasure hunting activity during the event.

Linn Lanes will sell hamburgers, with proceeds going to the event.


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