'America's Run for the Fallen' goes through Ottumwa, Mt. Pleasant.
OTTUMWA, Iowa —
You may have seen them early Wednesday morning coming through Ottumwa, or along Highway 34 headed for Mt. Pleasant Wednesday afternoon.
They’re on a mission to honor every fallen service member from the War on Terror, one mile at a time.
“We started as a way to remind the public that men and women have given their lives in preservation of our freedom,” said George Lutz, who started the organization nearly a decade ago.
“One of the ways that we thought would be just an amazing awareness opportunity would be to identify those who gave their lives in the last 18 years and then lay a tribute trail across America to honor every one of them out loud mile by mile,” Lutz continued.
Their journey goes coast to coast.
“We started in Ft. Irwin, California, on April the 7th. It’s a trip that is taking us through 18 states for 120 days over 6,000 miles and we are here in the middle of Iowa,” Lutz explained.
While George and his support team are part of the journey for every mile, the runners join up locally throughout their journey.
“I have teams from Davis County cross county that I’m familiar with. I coach cross country here in Ottumwa as well as track. And just to have all these high school… and we’ve even had some college runners come back to do it, just to take part in his wonderful event, is just fantastic,” said Jim Schlarbaum.
For every mile covered, George Lutz hopes to help Gold Star families across the country cope with their loss.
“Based on the grieving process that I was going through, after I learned that my son was killed in Iraq in 2005,” Lutz said, “basically as a way of healing I wanted to give back to all those families that are out there that have lost loved ones and military service regardless of cause. And to have a way to share with them that America does care and give them a way to know that the appreciation is out there.”
If you'd like to donate your time or money to 'America's Run for the Fallen', follow this link here.