San Jose, Calif. — 2/19/15 – At last year’s San Jose 408k, “Race to the Row”, World War II veteran, Joe Bell, donned his uniform and stood outside his home to cheer on runners as they passed through his Rose Garden neighborhood. In return, runners warmly offered their appreciation and together a viral video was born. Sadly, Mr. Bell passed before this year’s March 1st event. In his absence, race organizers have added a Memorial Mile to honor all local service members both past and present. The initiative will bring veterans and active military alike onto the course, near the late Joe Bell’s home, and encourage them to cheer on the runners.
This addition to the event continues the 408k’s tradition of supporting veterans as was originally established by their cornerstone partnership with the Pat Tillman Foundation at the inception of the event. In honor of late NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman, who grew up in San Jose, the foundation provides academic scholarships for military veterans and their spouses through the Tillman Scholars program. Since the inception of the event, the San Jose 408k “Race to the Row” has raised over $40,000 to support the foundation and looks to surpass $50,000 by race day.
“Of course we were really hoping to honor Joe Bell in person, but I think expanding the appreciation to all San Jose veterans and service members is the best way to pay tribute to both Joe and Pat Tillman. I’m really excited to see that special interaction between our passing runners and the local vets,” said J.T. Service, San Jose 408k race founder.
Both Marie Tillman and Joe Bell’s family echoed similar sentiments.
“Pat didn’t look at joining the military as a sacrifice. For him, it was more about the opportunity to serve and be a meaningful part of the community,” said Marie Tillman, president of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “We’re proud to dedicate a mile of the race course to honor local service members and veterans for their leadership and service to our country.”
Charles Bell, son of Joe Bell, reflected upon his families pride in their father and grandfather. “The entire Bell family is proud of Grandpa Joe Bell. He inspired a number of relatives to serve our country in many varied skills. My dad’s media moment at the 2014 408k encouraged people from around the country to further appreciate Americans in uniform who have served in the past and are serving now. We want to thank you everyone that supports this event to honor the U.S. Military.”
The Memorial Mile will be located during the 4th mile of the 8k run. It will begin at Garden and Emory St. near the San Jose Rose Garden and continue down Emory to Bascom Ave. Veterans and active military interested in participating are encouraged to contact race organizers at [email protected].
To register or to receive more information on the Memorial Mile and San Jose 408k “Race to the Row,” please visit www.run408k.com.