Bruce Snyder has this lasting image of Pat Tillman ingrained in his memory.
It was New Year’s Eve 1997, and the Arizona State football team had just defeated Iowa in the Sun Bowl in Tillman’s final collegiate game.
As was his custom, Snyder let his players go home with family if they chose to do so.
(Tillman) said, “Hey, stop the bus,” Snyder recalls. “And he walked arm in arm with Marie (his fiancée) and they just strolled into the darkness.
“That was almost mystical. I just knew he was going to do something great.”
Tillman would go on to play for the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL before turning down a multimillion dollar contract offer to enlist in the U.S. Army with his brother, Kevin. He was killed by friendly fire on April 22, 2004, while on patrol with his Ranger battalion unit in Afghanistan.
Today, approximately 12,000 participants from all 50 states turned out for the third annual Pat’s Run, a 4.2-mile run/walk around Arizona State designed to celebrate Tillman’s legacy and raise funds for the Pat Tillman Foundation.
Notable participants included Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, former ASU coach and current Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, ASU women’s basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne, former ASU quarterback and current Oakland Raider Andrew Walter and Pat Tillman’s former teammates Kyle Murphy and Grey Reugamer.
Alex Garwood, Tillman’s brother-in-law, said the amazing thing is the amount of diversity the event features. There are two different starting lines so the more competitive runners can go first.
“Man-woman, young-old, big-small, black-white, there are 10,000-plus from all walks of life,” Garwood said. “Any measure of diversity is there.”
The proceeds from the event go to the Leadership Through Action program at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Selected Tillman scholars attend a class that develops leadership skills and then has the students create programs for the benefit of the community.
The past two events have helped raise $500,000 for the Tillman Foundation.
The race begins on Packard Drive and ends on the 42-yard line (Tillman’s jersey number with Arizona State) inside Sun Devil Stadium.
“Pat would appreciate that they’re doing something, that they’re not just writing a check,” Snyder said. “The money raised is for action — he’s really an action guy. He was intelligent and philosophical, but he was an action guy. He always believed a great idea should be acted upon.”
There was a .42-mile race for children 12 and younger in addition to the main run.
Snyder will be the race starter for the third consecutive year, and Garwood won’t be far away.
“I’ve had the opportunity to sit at the starting line and watch people move,” Garwood said. “The first year I was there on accident, and I just froze. Last year I went there on purpose. It’s so powerful.
“Short of Pat walking out there, I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather watch.”
Run Results: www.patsrun.com