Colleen O’Hare’s husband died while he was a student in the US Navy’s Test Pilot School when a T-38 Talon training jet crashed. He left behind three children, the youngest was only 10 months old.
After he passed, Colleen wasn’t sure how she would be able to fulfill the dreams of her husband and pay for all three of her children to attend college. That’s when she learned about Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation. She enrolled all three of her children in the program, and now they will all graduate debt free.
Colleen will be one of 30,000 runners to toe the starting line of the Marine Corps Marathon this October 30th. Like many others who run the race for a purpose greater than their finish time, Colleen will be running in honor of her husband. During the application process for the marathon, there was a question from the Wear Blue: Run to Remember community about whether she would be running in honor a fallen service member. Wear Blue: Run to Remember honors the service and sacrifices of the American military, and creates a support network for military members and their families. They too, like Fallen Patriots, try to bridge the gap between military and civilian communities and it creates a living memorial for our country’s fallen military members. The Wear Blue Mile, at approximately mile 14 of the marathon, is comprised of two parts: (1) the Faces of the fallen posters and (2) American flags (each draped with a black ribbon, bearing the name of a fallen military member) held by volunteers. Colleen is looking forward to seeing her husband’s poster and flag, as it will certainly serve as motivation to continue all the way through the 26.2 miles of the race.
The Marine Corps Marathon, also known as “The People’s Marathon”, is one of the most inspiring, scenic and well-supported marathons in the US. Together runners honor the service and sacrifice of the American military with each of their steps. Colleen will run the marathon decked out in Fallen Patriots swag to show her support and appreciation for Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation. But even more importantly, as a beacon to raise awareness of the organization for other families who might also need college education expenses covered due to losing a parent in the line of duty.
Over 97% of those killed in action are men, leaving mothers, who earn on average less than $50,000 per year, with the financial responsibilities of raising a family. Surviving moms, like Colleen, endure many challenges, but find comfort in knowing there are organizations like Fallen Patriots who want to help. The scholarships also empower the children with all the advantages that a college education gives, but most importantly they realize their daily pain and sacrifice are being recognized and that people still care about their welfare long after their parent’s death.