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NEWS | Nov. 3, 2020

2020 Assault on Kennesaw Mountain 5k Road Race

By Spc. Tori Miller Georgia National Guard

The Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation, the official support organization of the Georgia National Guard, hosted its 9th annual Assault on Kennesaw Mountain 5k run from Sept. 15 – Oct. 31, 2020. Over the span of 43 days, Georgia Guardsmen, their families and friends across the world promoted good health and raised awareness of the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation.

“COVID-19 created unplanned challenges for many of our serving Georgia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Meara Brown, Race Director of the Assault on Kennesaw Mountain 5k. “Conducting the race in some way shape or form was vital to not only honoring our Soldiers, but to also generate some much needed funding for the Family Support Foundation in order for them to continue to provide much needed financial support to those in need.”

This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the race was conducted as a virtual “shadow run,” where participants ran at a location of their choosing on a day and time that fit their schedule. The participants tracked their race routes through a fitness phone app that displayed distance, time and even elevation change. Participants posted their results on social media through the hashtag, #AoKM2020RunWhereYouAre.

“I ran in Oceanside, California,” said 1st Lt. Kimberly Hand of the Fort Gillem-based Bravo Company, 221st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Battalion. “It was nice to be a part of something that helps so many Georgia Guard families, even from so far away. I’m happy that this event still happened, and I could participate and take the opportunity to remember our fallen Soldiers.”

The run honors the 43 fallen Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers that have perished during the Global War on Terrorism from 2001 to the present. Proceeds from the race go to the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation, a self-funded 501(c)3 organization. The Foundation’s primary mission is to provide financial relief assistance during times of unexpected emergencies and hardships to current member of the Georgia National Guard and full-time federal/state civilian employees of the Georgia Department of Defense living in the state of Georgia. Not only does the event promote healthy lifestyle habits of the Georgia National Guard, it also sustains an organization that assists service member resiliently bounce back from hardship.

“We are projecting to have a record year this year,” said Harriet Morgan, Program Manager for the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation. “With critical community events such as this one, along with help from individual and corporate contributions, the foundation has been able to approve over 3500 applications for Guardsmen and their families which amounts to $3 million in support and emergency relief funds.”

When registration closed on Oct. 31, the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation had registered 419 participants for this year’s race. The race participants came from 22 states and three countries including, Germany, Afghanistan and the country of Georgia. Distinguished participants included: Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, the Adjutant General of Georgia; Maj. Gen. Joe Jarrard, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Europe; Maj. Gen. Randall Simmons, the previous commanding general of the Georgia Army National Guard; and Brig. Gen. Dwayne Wilson, the current commanding general of the Georgia Army National Guard. Capt. Drew Silva and 1st Sgt. Andrew Keene played key roles in registering runners and providing race shirts, bibs and medals.

“We have decided that the virtual event was such a success, that next year, we will have an in-person event, as well as the virtual event,” said Brown. “There is nothing like running up Kennesaw Mountain, though. The photographs of our Fallen 43 are posted along the route to give you encouragement as you make your way. They are always with us.”