Pat’s Run organizers hoping to raise $1 million this year

The Arizona State Sun Devils averaged just a tad over 59,000 people for their football games last season.  A crowd more than half that size will descend on the stadium in a little over a week for the annual Pat’s Run, which finishes up on the 42-yard line of Sun Devil Stadium.

Participation at last year’s event was estimated to be about 35,000, when you figure in participants, volunteers, and supporters.

But if you want to be one of those included in this year’s run, you’ve got until Friday to be able to sign up online.  That’s assuming there are still spots available for the April 21 running, since the event is capped at 28,000 runners (and walkers).  The first race in 2005 drew 5,000 participants.

If there are still a few spots left to fill after Friday, walk-up registration will be available on the day of the race.  But that’s a bit iffy, since the run has gained such popularity over the past seven years that it generally fills up early.  Team registration has already closed out.

(*Update: The 4.2-mile run has been closed out, but registration is still open for the kids’ run and the ‘T-Shirt Only’ category.)

The 4.2-mile course, a .42-mile kids’ run, and finishing the main event on the 42-yard line are all symbolic, since the football jersey worn by Pat Tillman was No. 42.

Tillman had a standout football career at ASU and went on to play briefly for the Arizona Cardinals, after being picked in the 1998 draft.  He was selected posthumously to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010 (See 5-27-10 phxfan article).

His NFL career was cut short after four years when he decided to forgo a new $3.6 contract to enlist in the U.S. Army, where he lost his life in a fire fight in Afghanistan in April, 2004.

The next year, the run was started in his honor and has become the flagship for many other projects developed by the Pat Tillman Foundation.  One of the most prominent is the Tillman Scholars – ASU Leadership Through Action program at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business.  Tillman was a marketing major at ASU.

The mission of the foundation is “to invest in military veterans and their spouses through educational scholarships, building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.”  This year, organizers hope to raise $1 million through Pat’s Run to help in that effort.

Through the years, the foundation has named 171 Tillman Military Scholars from 32 different states, awarding a total of $2.2 million in scholarship support.

Pat Tillman’s death eight years ago, while serving the country he loved, earned a Purple Heart and a Silver Star.  But the work that is being done by his foundation would no doubt have meant much more to him.  He was that kind of guy.

And Pat’s Run continues to carry that legacy forward.

(Photo: ASU/Tom Story)