Honoring an acclaimed athlete and veteran in Manayunk

The Philadelphia area chapter of the Arizona State University (ASU) Alumni Association is sponsoring a “shadow run” in Manayunk this weekend in support of the Pat Tillman Foundation.

“Pat Tillman is pretty much our hero,” Fernando Torres, a 2005 graduate of ASU and president of the Philadelphia area chapter of the alumni association, said. “We decided to do a little ‘Pat’s Run’ here just to collect more funds for the foundation.”

The Pat Tillman Foundation was founded in 2004 to honor Tillman, a 1998 graduate of ASU and linebacker for the university’s football team. After being drafted onto the Arizona Cardinals as a seventh-round draft pick in 1998 and playing 3 seasons in the NFL, Tillman, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, turned down a multi-million dollar football contract in order to serve in the military. He was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan before being killed by friendly fire in April of 2004.

The foundation has donated more than $1 million to Arizona State University to create an endowment for students, and has awarded more than $1.3 million in scholarship support to veterans, according to the organization’s website.

Each year, the Pat Tillman Foundation holds an annual “Pat’s Run,” a fundraising foot race, at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium. Across the country, chapters of the ASU Alumni Association hold “shadow runs” which also raise money for the foundation.

This year, the Philadelphia race will start at Machismo Burrito Bar on Main Street and continue through the Manayunk trail. Torres said that he expects between 60 and 80 runners to compete in the race, and about 120 spectators to attend the event.

“We’re really trying to honor Pat’s legacy—and it’s not just Pat,” Torres said. “It’s really honoring his commitments to life and public service. We’re trying to honor those guys who are fighting for this country—regardless of whether people agree to the war or not—that has nothing to do with it. Our goal is to support our veterans.”

While Torres did not personally know any U.S. military veterans three years ago, when he first organized the Philadelphia “shadow run,” he is now friends with several veterans who competed in last year’s race.

“We have, again, invited the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America,” Torres said. “We thought it would be a great idea to join with them… it’s really opened up so that it’s no longer just an Arizona State Alumni Association run, it’s now a little ‘Pat’s Run.'”

Torres said that, for him, the most inspiring part of the event is being able to personally speak with veterans in person.

“It really opens the eyes of people to understand what these guys go through when they come back,” Torres said.

The Philadelphia “shadow run” kicks off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 16 at Machismo Burrito Bar at 4330 Main Street.

For more information about the event, visit http://alumni.asu.edu/chapters/philadelphia.

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