FORT MYERS, Fla. - Nearly a thousand pairs of feet pounded the pavement at Thursday night's Midpoint Madness 5k race, running in honor of all the brave men and women that gave them the freedom to do so.
"I always come out here and run this race for my fathers," Robert Anderson said. "My wife's father fought in World War II and my father fought in the Korean War. God bless their souls, they are not here anymore, but I do it for my parents."
Some veterans cheered racers on from the sidewalks. Others, like U.S. Army veteran Jeff Burgoyn breezed through the 3 miles. "It is nothing compared to what the men and women overseas do for us on a daily basis," he said.
Vets like him fueled the San Carlos Park firefighters to the finish, running in full uniforms. Talk about endurance - the crew even stopped to do push ups along the way!
"We are here to show them tribute, to thank them for putting their life on the line for our freedom so we can do this, so I can be a firefighter, that my daughter can follow as a firefighter," Chief Nat Ippolito said.
Along with raising money for the Lee County YMCA youth programs and United Way, there was one veteran in particular inspiring runners to give their all: PFC Corey Kent. The Cape Coral soldier lost both of his legs in an explosion in Afghanistan. Since then, he's been awarded the Purple Heart and Combat Action badge for his courage and heroism.
"The community has done so much for Corey and our family," Kent's stepfather Dan Ashby said. "We appreciate everything they've done. Hopefully, a lot of this has brought people into the fold and they understand what it means for all these veterans that have put their lives on the line for us to have our freedom."
The top male finisher was John Biffar of Cape Coral who ran 15:56.
The top female winner was Joanie Halgrim of Fort Myers with a time of 20:21.