CROUCH, Idaho — Army SSG Aaron Butler was killed while fighting in Afghanistan after his special forces unit was hit in 2017.
Two years later his commander Dan Nelson organized the first Aaron Butler Memorial Purple Heart Run to make sure people don't forget the sacrifice Butler made for our country.
Now the run is in its third year and although the venue has moved to Garden Valley, the purpose remains the same to bring people together to honor the heroes who never made it home and guiding runners to the finish line were the pictures of fallen Idahoans.
"I go back and touch each of those banners and just take a moment to think about the sacrifice of those men and women and their families," said Aaron's brother Adam. "It means a lot."
The Aaron Butler Memorial Foundation makes it their mission to put together social events that help the public understand veterans and get to know the warfighting minority.
The race also features local law enforcement as we saw Kevin Holtry cross the finish line in a Grit wheelchair, Holtry and other Boise Police officers were injured in a shooting five years ago when they were chasing a fugitive, police dog Jardo lost his life in the incident.
"When the announcer makes fun of you as you come across the finish line you kind of feel special I’ve had some new parts put in my body so they were giving me some love for actually making the 5K," said Brian Holland who earned the BPD medal of honor for his actions five years ago. "It is a great feeling when everyone is standing around and cheering you on."
Racers had the option of running a 5K, a 10K or an unknown distance, race organizers got the idea for this after their first race at the Eagle Bike Park didn't have the best signs to guide runners in the right direction.
"The run was awesome, it was a little daunting to start and not know how far you are going," said Adam Butler. "We are getting better every year we kind of make fun of ourselves so we have this unknown distance run along with the 5K and the 10 K.”
The foundation is working to develop a youth leadership program and the race series is also growing they will host a race in Las Vegas in October and next year they will do one in Monticello, Utah where Aaron Butler was a four-time state champion wrestler.
But as for this race it certainly served its mission to connect people with veterans through running.
"To kind of cross those bridges to talk and relate to each other you can’t beat that in this type of setting with these type of people, it’s actually a beautiful thing," said Holland.