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For Colleen O’Hare, running was once an activity she did with her husband. Now it is a way she honors his memory.
In 2000, Lieutenant Commander Raymond O’Hare was killed on a test flight, leaving behind Colleen and their three children, Elizabeth, Katie and Tommy. He was 33 years old.
Amidst her pain, Colleen slipped on her running shoes and pounded the pavement.
“It allowed me to process grief,” Colleen told TODAY about running. “There was a grief counselor that I had been going to who said the only way beyond grief is through it. That is my way.”
At the time of his passing, Raymond and Colleen had been training for a 195-mile relay race. One month after his death, Colleen completed the relay race, finishing the last leg with the whole team.
“I did feel at the time that he was with us and I felt proud,” she said. “He would be proud of me, too.”
Fifteen years later, Colleen is still lacing up her running shoes, although not a way to deal with her grief, but instead to honor Raymond’s memory.
Weeks after raising over $10,000 for Brigham and Women’s Hospital by running the 2014 Boston Marathon, Colleen completed a relay to help the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation which helps military kids go to college. This Memorial Day, Katie and Tommy will join their mom to run the “500 For the Fallen” relay from Concord, Massachusetts to the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., where Raymond is buried.
“It’s going to be really emotional,” Elizabeth, now 18, said. “Being in Arlington makes me feel like a part of him is still there.” The family has decided to run the last leg of the relay, into Arlington Cemetery, together.
“I feel so blessed to be out there and running,” Colleen said. “Because many people can’t.”