|July 16th, 2011, 12:36 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Feel good story!
Kevin Looney and his wife Maureen have run in numerous memorial races over the years, but the couple never imagined they’d someday run in their son’s memory.
Brendan Looney, a 29-year-old Navy SEAL, was among nine service members killed in September 2010 when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan. He and other fallen SEALs were honored this morning at the Allen Stone Braveheart Memorial Run at the Oceanfront.
“It means a lot to see all these people out here,” Maureen Looney said. “I haven’t forgotten my son, and neither have they.”
A record 960 people – many of them active-duty and retired sailors in town for the annual East Coast SEAL reunion at Little Creek – participated in the annual memorial run, raising more than $45,000 for the Navy SEALs Foundation and the Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad. Fewer than 200 people participated in the initial race 12 years ago.
Frenzied national attention after a Beach-based SEAL team killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan this spring seemed to boost interest in this year's race, organizers said.
“We always knew these guys were rock stars,” Kevin Looney said. “Now everyone knows.”
The race, which includes a run-swim-run competition, was named in honor of Norfolk native Allen Stone, a SEAL who died in a training accident in 1999.
Retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Mark Courrier and another officer were responsible for delivering the news to Allen’s family more than a decade ago. Today, Courrier recruits for the SEALs while also working to help raise money for the families of fallen sailors.
“Allen knew what he was doing,” Courrier said. “All these guys know the dangers of their work heading in, but they do it anyway. Events like this are a great way to recognize their sacrifice.”