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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | March 18, 2022

JBA Chapel hosts 5K honoring fallen firefighters

By Master Sgt. Eboni Reams 316th Wing Public Affairs

More than 225 local community and military members gathered at Joint Base Andrews Chapel to participate in a 5K run today.


The event, hosted by the Joint Base Andrews Chapel team, honored the loss of three Baltimore City firefighters who died in the line of duty this January as well as supported a local Anne Arundel County firefighter named Greg, who is battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control.


“Today’s event was to honor the three fallen firefighters who tragically lost their lives on the 25th of January,” said Master Sgt. Darrell Williams, 316th Wing Chapel Religious Affairs senior enlisted leader. “We saw an opportunity to sew back into the community, so we did.


Williams highlighted the event’s multifaceted approach that brought military and local communities together in the spirit of generosity.


“We were able to give back by purchasing the T-shirts distributed,” Williams said. “All of the money and the proceeds will go to help the family members who lost their loved ones. Any time we can give back to families, that’s what we want to do.”


Green shirts represented the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, while black shirts represented the Baltimore City Fire Department. Every race participant had the opportunity to choose a shirt to wear in support of first responders while completing the run course.


“The best part was seeing how both fire departments came together; they connected immediately and that’s the reason we do it --the brotherhood beyond the rank and uniform,” Williams said.


Ch. Lt. Col. Karl Blancafor, JBA senior chaplain and Baltimore City native, spoke to the participants at the start of the race.


“The run is a symbol of our first responders’ lifestyle of ready, resilient, and response,” Blancafor said. “In the spirit of the 316th Wing Commander’s motto, ‘Pressing Excellence,’ the Chaplain Corps wanted the 5K to serve as a time we pay tribute to the sacrifices of first responders, and let them know we appreciate the 48-96 hour shifts and time missing from families. Even more so, we honor their willingness to lay down their lives in the face of buildings and aircraft on fire, bombings, car accidents and even home emergencies.”


Firefighters, fire trucks, and even Sparky the Fire Dog were at the finish line, cheering on the runners. The first 100 finishers won a free breakfast.


“In the end, this 5K was simply a way of saying, ‘thank you’ to Baltimore City first responders from someone who will never forget, Baltimore will forever be home!” Blancafor said.