OLATHE, Kan. -- People from around the metro came together on Saturday morning to honor Army Specialist Spencer Duncan. Duncan was one of 30 American Soldiers killed when his Chinook was shot down over Afghanistan in August, 2011.
The Make it Count 5K honored Duncan and raised money to support Veterans organizations. More than 475 runners lined up for the first Make it Count 5K. Many people don't know the emotional story behind the race's title.
Spencer's father recited the mantra almost daily to his three boys before they went to school and those words were among the last that Spencer spoke to his family before his final mission last year.
"We had finished the conversation and I was getting ready to say goodbye and he said to me, "I know dad, make it count,'" said Dale Duncan. "So, for us make it count means a lot more than 3 words, it means something pretty special. It means taking your life and making it count and that is what we are gonna do. We are gonna dedicate this to the Veterans, bring money into organizations that support and help vets and we are gonna make it count."
Patriotic music and messages blared over the loudspeakers. As runners rounded the last corner, the route took them under a gigantic flag hoisted by the Olathe Fire Department's ladder truck. There was a Chinook helicopter in the background from the 158 Aviation Regiment. Inside at the front of the helicopter, a poignant memorial to Spencer. His boots and helmet were propped up near the position he would've been in when the Chinook was shot down.
"They were flying a special operations mission and they were going after some very bad guys a team ahead of them had run the bad guys out and they were coming in to basically entrap the bad guys as they were coming in they were engaged by enemy fire," said Lt. Col. Jim Fitzgerald, Batt. commander.
Spencer Duncan's company ran in formation and carried the American flag. As each runner crossed the finish line, Spencer's parents gave them a hug and a dog tag, encouraging them to make every day count like their son did.
If you would like to donate to Spencer Duncan's Make it Count fund for Veterans click here.