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Community supports troops by running in their honor
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Hundreds of runners participate in the second annual Fallen Heroes of Georgia Road Race on Saturday at Lake Lanier Islands Resort. The run honors the 163 soldiers from Georgia who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 2001. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Candice King woke up early Saturday to go on a walk with her family.

But this wasn’t your typical morning walk.

She was walking in the second annual Fallen Heroes of Georgia Memorial Run/Walk at Lake Lanier Islands in honor of her son, Spec. Ryan C. King, 22, who died in Afghanistan on May 1, 2009.

King said the community support that filled Lake Lanier Islands on Saturday would have made her son proud.

“It is amazing to see that everybody does remember the soldiers; they don’t forget,” King said.

The Memorial Run/Walk, which was sponsored by Lake Lanier Islands Resort, Duluth Police Department and Operation One Voice, is held in honor of the fallen soldiers from Georgia and their families who served in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.

Participants could take part in a 5K, 10K or a 1K fun run.

Steve Durling, the race organizer, said it was wonderful to see the families of fallen soldiers come out and be a part of the event.

“This is very important to them, and it is very important to our nation,” Durling said. “They actually thank us for hosting the event, but this is us giving thanks to them.”

Sgt. Tiggs, a member of the U.S. Army National Guard, said he loved being at the event, even though he wasn’t running this year.

“Everyone has been great, and this means a lot to me,” Tiggs said.

A Dobbins resident, Tiggs has a brother, a niece and a nephew who are serving in Afghanistan.

“I know a lot of people don’t want us there, but to me, it is for a good cause,” he said. “I think we are making progress.”

Tiggs’ brother is expected to return home this fall to his wife and 10 children. If he were already home, Tiggs said, he would probably be out running Saturday’s race.

Tiggs said once Afghan security forces gain better control, more U.S. soldiers will be able to come home. But right now, he said, the country isn’t ready for that. “I think we are in for a long haul,” he added.

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