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I’m not running for myself

Airmen participate in a Sexual Assault Awareness run.

Airmen with the 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois National Guard, participate in a Sexual Assault Awareness run in Peoria, Ill., April 6, 2019. The run was held in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and sponsored by the 182nd Sexual Assault Resource Center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jason Grabiec)

Airmen participate in a Sexual Assault Awareness run.

Airmen with the 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois National Guard, participate in a Sexual Assault Awareness run in Peoria, Ill., April 6, 2019. The run was held in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and sponsored by the 182nd Sexual Assault Resource Center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jason Grabiec)

Airmen participate in a Sexual Assault Awareness run.

Airmen with the 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois National Guard, participate in a Sexual Assault Awareness run in Peoria, Ill., April 6, 2019. The run was held in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and sponsored by the 182nd Sexual Assault Resource Center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jason Grabiec)

Airmen participate in a Sexual Assault Awareness run.

Airmen with the 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois National Guard, participate in a Sexual Assault Awareness run in Peoria, Ill., April 6, 2019. The run was held in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and sponsored by the 182nd Sexual Assault Resource Center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jason Grabiec)

Airmen participate in a Sexual Assault Awareness run.

Airmen with the 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois National Guard, participate in a Sexual Assault Awareness run in Peoria, Ill., April 6, 2019. The run was held in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and sponsored by the 182nd Sexual Assault Resource Center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Jason Grabiec)

PEORIA, Ill. --

My feet hit the ground and within a large team of people I start my run. I’m grateful for the sun and forgiving weather, but even on a dreary day I would still be here running.

Maybe it was the sun shining light in support and for a bright change, and if it was raining I would’ve seen it as the rain releasing all of the sorrow and suffering that is being held.

The month of April is recognized by the military as Sexual Assault Prevention month. During this month, we are especially reminded of information, awareness and training to prevent suffering, help those who are suffering and or those who have suffered.

Being new to the base and to the Air Force, this was my first opportunity to take part in my base’s SAPR Awareness run on April 6, 2019. I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt a calling I couldn’t ignore. This run was not limited to only those who have suffered or are a victim to this tragedy, and in my heart I was trying to run to take that burden from them.

This year, all of the Student Flight program showed up for support. It gave you a different type of feeling in your chest to see those who are waiting to wear the uniform already be brothers and sisters for something so emotional.

We ran two miles together. Uphill, downhill, some fast, some slow, but all of us were moving for the cause we don’t want to and will not ignore.

After the run there was information provided with resources for help, recovery and how sexual assault is not something the 182nd dismisses in our community.
It’s hard to talk about the topic of sexual assault. It’s uncomfortable and it’s heavy, but this event showed awareness beyond a basic presentation. I wasn’t just taking part of a unified support; I am a part of a unified support.

And I hope the calling that filled myself and others finds its way into your life as well.