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Ozarks Life: Hero Run 5K honors the past while supporting the future

This second annual event will raise scholarship money for children of military families.
Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 6:58 AM CDT
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NIXA, Mo. (KY3) - Sitting in his Christian County home, Aaron Fleming is at peace.

In the middle of tying a fly is about as far as one can get from the Middle East. Fleming served a decade in the Marines, retiring with combat-related injuries.

“I enlisted because it was exciting to me,” Fleming said.

“It’s almost impossible to understand the sacrifice some of our service members go through,” Jason Massengale said.

Massengale admires Aaron’s service. And while the real estate broker always respected the military, it wasn’t until his son joined the Army that he understood firsthand the sacrifice of our military and their families.

“Watching my daughter-in-law go through the birth without him,” Massengale said, “I was more aware of the sacrifice our military makes. And we started talking about it at the office. Aaron’s wife, Paula, is a team member here.”

Jason and Aaron teamed up to make sure military families in the Nixa area knew how much they meant to their community.

In just five weeks the Hero Run 5K was born in November of 2020. Massengale was able to get approval from the city council, planning help from the police, and sponsors to come together in a short time to honor local military.

“It’s an obstacle course,” Massengale said. “We had drill sergeants to give the community a chance to see what they go through boot camp.”

The money raised from the 5K creates a scholarship for a son or daughter of an area, military family.

This past spring, the inaugural scholarship was awarded to Olivia Engleman whose essay on heroes stood out.

“It puts their family and service into the spotlight,” Fleming said.

And this weekend, for the 2nd annual Hero Run 5K, Massengale wanted to make it more impactful for the community.

“We chose a local hero,” Massengale said. “Someone that had served their country, that’s from Nixa, and that made an impact right here in our community. We’re naming an award after him.”

Servicemen and servicewomen can receive challenge coins for going above and beyond. This weekend, runners who display the characteristic of being steadfast while on the course will receive a coin; the Capt. Patrick E. Harp Award.

“Our drill sergeants are going to be looking for people that are steadfast in their determination to finish this race and to their determination to help other runners along the way,” Massengale said. “And so at the end of the race, the drill sergeants are going to choose the people that they will give the Capt. Patrick E. Harp Steadfast Award to.”

“The word ‘steadfast’ was chosen by Patrick’s family,” Massengale said.

From his days of helping start the competitive JROTC program while at Nixa High School to diffusing bombs with the U.S. Army, Capt. Patrick Harp was an American Hero who left us last year at the age of 25.

“This is just someone that spent his life helping and serving others,” Massengale said. “And so it’s just very emotional. And very special.”

The Hero Run 5K starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6. You can register for the event here, or you can register in person at the Nixa Community Center between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the morning of the race.

“Don’t think that you have to be a runner just to be a part of it,” Massengale said. “You just have to have a heart for the military and come out and have a good time with your family.”

Click here to visit Aaron Fleming’s online fly shop.

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