OLATHE, Kan. - Spencer Duncan was just 21 years old when he was killed when militants shot down his Chinook helicopter while on duty with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan last year.
But Spencer Duncan is far more than a name on a list of casualties of war, and his family is making sure that his legacy counts.
"As a mom, I couldn't be more proud of my son, and I think it's important to understand that Spencer died doing something he truly believed in," said Spencer's mom, Megan Duncan.
Duncan, described as a humble guy who liked helping out and loved his country, was killed in action on August 6, 2011 in Afghanistan. That night his parents got a visit that would change their lives in many ways.
"We got that ringing of our doorbell at about 5:00 in the evening, and by 7:00 our house was full," said Megan Duncan.
Spencer's family found out that night they'd lost their beloved son, but they'd gained enormous support from their community who came together to care for this grieving family, one of many who lost their loved ones that day.
"This is everybody's grief, this is not just ours. This is the nation mourning true heroes," said Megan Duncan.
So to honor the sacrifice of their son and all of America's heroes, the Duncan family is starting the "Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Project" to help veterans and veterans' organizations.
A 5K to raise money for that project will be held on Saturday, nearly a year after Spencer's death. The name "Make it Count" is a family thing, something Spencer's dad, Dale Duncan, always used to tell his kids.
"I would say goodbye, family, make it count today," said Dale Duncan, smiling at the memory.
Now it's the Duncan family's turn to make it count for Spencer.
"We are just trying to live lives that are grateful for what we have, and we're just trying to make it count, and we're trying to honor our son, who certainly made his life count," Mrs. Duncan said.
Spencer's family says 385 runners have signed up for the 5K so far. They plan to make it an annual event. It's set to start at 7:30 a.m. this Saturday at Olathe South High School
If you want to find out more about Spencer Duncan's life or how to donate to his Make It Count Project, click here.
"Like" me on Facebook: Abby Eden Fox 4
"Follow" me on Twitter: @AbbyEden
Email me: email@example.com