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Runners give their all in soldiers memory
5K race honors Lula guardsman Jenrette lost in Afghanistan in 2009
Runners participate in the second annual Some Gave All 5K road race Saturday in Lula. The race is in memory of Maj. Kevin Jenrette, who was killed in action June 4, 2009, in Afghanistan. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

More than 300 runners turned out Saturday for the second annual Some Gave All 5K Road Race in honor of fallen Lula soldier Maj. Kevin Jenrette.

There was a chance of a thunderstorm, but the sun cut through the clouds over Rafe Banks Park in Lula.

"In the spirit of Major J., his personality shone through," Lt. Col. Randall Simmons, said.

Simmons, a squadron commander of the 108th Cavalry, worked closely with Jenrette, who was the unit's executive officer. Jenrette was killed in June 2009 while deployed with the Georgia Army National Guard in Afghanistan.

With the help of many friends and family members, Shannon Jenrette began the race as a way to memorialize her husband.

"Running was something that me and Kevin did together," Jenrette said. "It's something to hold every year and keep his spirit alive, and bring people together."

Simmons and his wife participated in the race.

"It's a great event that Shannon puts on," Simmons said. "It shows how strong she is."

Last year, the race raised $16,000 for the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation, which provides assistance for military families.

Along with the race, the event included other activities, like rock wall climbing and bungee jumping. Visitors could also check out the UH-72 Lakota helicopter parked in the field.

New this year, event participants and supporters could purchase a balloon to release in memory of a loved one. Before the race, the crowd released 800 red, white and blue balloons, and a light breeze carried them over the trees and into the sky.

Escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders for a second year, the runners began on Cobb Street, wound through the neighborhood and ended at the other side of the park.

Dripping with sweat, Witt Nix of North Hall was first to cross the finish line with a time of 18:35. The 15-year-old said he and his father were looking for a 5-kilometer race to run, and was glad to do something good for someone else in the process.

"It feels good to help support a cause," he said.

Jenrette was one of 13 casualties from the 108th Calvary lost in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Sgt. 1st Class Brian Bolt just returned from deployment, and is helping to raise money for a memorial in honor of the 108th's fallen soldiers. He worked with Jenrette "40 hours a week" and remembers him well.

"He was the best of all of us, all you could ask for in a soldier, in a husband, father. He will truly be missed," Bolt said.

In the future, Shannon Jenrette and organizers would like to expand the race to a 10K. They are seeking ways to make it a qualifier for Peachtree Road Race, a race in which both Jenrette and her husband had participated.

Jenrette wants the race to remind people of the sacrifices made by all those serving in the military.

"I hope that they not only remember my husband, but other soldiers who have given their all," she said.