August 6, 2011, the United States lost a helicopter in Afghanistan. Among those lost in the attack was Navy SEAL Matthew Mason.
Now Mallard Creek High School’s National Honor Society will host their Run Like a Warrior 5K in his honor, April 28 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Reedy Creek Park. Registration is $30.
“Matt was definitely a leader and this would provide the opportunity to my students to develop some of their leadership skills by organizing a community wide event like this 5K,” said Kari Rhoades, the honor society’s adviser and Mason’s cousin. “We decided that the money should go to the Wounded Warrior Project in honor of Matt.”
Mason was a recipient of the Wounded Warrior Project in 2004 when he was injured in Fallujah, Iraq. After losing part of his left buttocks and a portion of muscle on his left arm, the organization helped prepare him to continue work as a Navy SEAL.
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“Wounded Warrior stepped in and provided extraordinary medicine and therapies for Matt. He was able to regain most of the use of that left arm to the point where he continued to train with the SEALs,” said Rhoades.
This is the first year Mallard Creek High School will host the 5K, but they plan to begin a tradition. The National Honor Society at the high school, with Rhoades’ help, planned the whole event.
Rhoades said all 150 members of the National Honor Society were involved in planning the event. But the heart of the operation, she said, was the president of the organization, Nathnael Abebe, a senior who will attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall. He took care of all organizing and making sure all of the reservations for the race were complete.
“Patience has always been one thing I’ve had to really get down, and also a lot of legal aspects to very simple events I never really knew about,” said Abebe about his experience planning the event.
Despite having worked on the event since this past November, the group has not yet met their goal of $4,000. They hope to have 300 to 400 people come out and participate.
“Apparently it takes a while for the community to become aware of events like this,” Rhoades said. “We might need to count on reaching our goal next year or the year after.”
The Run Like a Warrior 5K will not be the only tradition the honor society puts in place with this year’s event.
At the event, a Warrior Wall will be put up for pictures and stories of those lost in service to be displayed. Every year the group plans to add a new section to the wall.
The wall will be a hinged plywood structure designed by Mallard Creek High student Kelly Broadway. It will consist of three 4-by-8-foot panels painted white, with "Wall of Warriors," along with the "Run Like a Warrior" logo of the school’s National Honor Society chapter and "In Memory of CPO Matthew D. Mason."
Race participants will be given access to blue paint to paint the name of the wounded warrior in whose honor they would like to run, and they will have glue and staples available if runners would like to attach a picture of their loved one to the wall.