The 2018 Boilermaker will be the closest our race ever comes to the 4th of July, our most patriotic holiday and the day our nation celebrates its freedom – including our ability to “run for fun”. It is therefore appropriate that we share this story from Boilermaker runner Ellen Brunet who runs for a very specific reason: to honor fallen Marine and Baldwinsville, New York native, Corporal Kyle R Schneider.
Why I Run
In 2011 I ran The Boilermaker with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart. My friends’ son, Corporal Kyle R Schneider, had been KIA while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan just a few weeks prior. That race was the beginning of my new purpose for running: To honor and remember Kyle.
A few months later I asked Kyle’s parents if I could run the Marine Corps Marathon to honor their son. When I got to mile 26 they were waiting for me and, from the finish line, together we walked to Section 60 Grave 9720 in Arlington National Cemetery to visit our hero.
That was over 200 races and 20 marathons ago. Sometimes during a race, while facing down tough a hill or extreme heat, I remind myself why I do what I do. That mile in Arlington with Kyle’s mother and father will always be the hardest of my life. Our freedom is a gift; a gift that our military gives to us so that we can enjoy days like Boilermaker Sunday. What we do is easy, what they do is hard.
The Schneider’s biggest fear is that their son will be forgotten. Kyle’s motto was: “It’s my turn to make a difference”. That’s what is on the front of our Freedom Team shirts. Kyle’s photo is on the back. During every race I have people ask me about Kyle and they tell me about their father, their brothers and sisters, or their own service. I never met Corporal Schneider but there’s no person who has influenced my life more. His legacy alone makes me want to be a better person – to Honor our military and their families in all that I do. On race day look for Corporal Schneider’s image among the runners and also take a moment to remember, our freedom is not free.
Learn more about Kyle’s service and the foundation his parents have started at www.cplkyleschneider.com