Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Unique 9/11 Tribute

I found this in this morning's local newspaper (San Gabriel Valley Tribune).


Marathon helps bond troops, Afghans
By Alison Hewitt Staff Writer

SAN DIMAS - When Army 1st Lt. Amanda Wilson crossed the finish line Tuesday to win a marathon in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, it was both an echo of and a long way from her cross-country racing days at South Hills High School.

The San Dimas resident organized the Sept. 11 memorial races on her Army base to honor fallen comrades, but also to build morale among her fellow soldiers and neighboring Afghans.

Ninety people joined the race run inside the base perimeter to keep safe from enemy attacks.

Twelve of the competitors were Afghans, including four interpreters, Wilson said.

"When I had my interpreter running side by side with me, it made me realize how far we have come," she wrote in an e-mail interview from Jalalabad at the end of the race.

The Afghans who ran congratulated the U.S. soldiers, she added.

"For the first time, we all felt like one team," Wilson said.

Contributions from donors in the San Gabriel Valley paid for racing numbers that competitors pinned to their shirts, as well as medals, T-shirts, tote bags, sports snacks and more.

Wilson's mother, Donna, took charge of fundraising, blasting past the $1,000 goal to bring in $2,600.

"Running is just such a big part of her life," Donna Wilson said. "Because it's always been such a passion for her, she tries to pass that on."

The day's events included team races and an individual marathon, which Amanda Wilson won in 108-degree heat.

"So 65 laps," she said. "And boy was it hot!"

For several years now, Wilson has run in a marathon every year, including one in Germany. She said she would like to organize another one next year - with one caveat.

"Hopefully, not in Afghanistan," she said. "I think Germany is a more suitable climate."



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