'Powerful': Gold Star children run 5K to honor their fallen parents in Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- On a day of reflection and remembrance, some Gold Star families united to honor their fallen loved ones and find some healing through running.

Wear blue: run to remember held its nationally choregraphed 5K run for Gold Star children on Memorial Day morning.

The nonprofit honors the sacrifice of the U.S. military by creating year-round running communities that help uplift families and build a network of support.

Dozens of children and their families gathered at the Jordan Soccer Complex, right beside Methodist University, to complete their three-mile run on the Cape Fear River Trail.

It's a run that Martin Apolinar Jr. has been training for the last few months with other fellow Gold Star children. His father, Sgt. 1st Class Martin Apolinar was killed in action in 2011.

"I mean, I was very young. So, I have pictures of him," Apolinar told ABC11. The young boy carried his dad's name on his shirt, stating he's just as strong as his dad.

"He was also in the military, yup. He was all big and strong and his elbows went out, like me," Martin said.

Meanwhile, for Gold Star wife Lacey Evans, Monday morning was a somber, healing experience for the mother and her two children: Macklin and Maryn.

"Memorial Day is, actually, two-fold for us. My husband died on Memorial Day weekend, so it means a little bit more to us than just the day of Memorial Day," Evans said.

Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Kyle Evans died in 2019. She said the Monday 5K is a chance for these children who have lost so much to connect with others in the same situation.

"I think it's so good for their hearts and their grief to be together," Evans said.

At the end of the route, pictures of fallen soldiers from across the nation filled up the final mile, giving anyone a chance to come by and pay their respects.

"Just knowing what they're doing and just taking steps and running in honor of their parents, it's really powerful," Evans said.
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