Running to remember and golfing to give back: Wear Blue and Folds of Honor thriving thanks to local efforts

Every single week, their names line the streets, just down the road from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

“They call out the names of fallen service members and then push off on the steps of a life-affirming run,” Lisa Hallett said.

They wear blue to remember, to honor, to support one another.

“It’s really been a powerful lifeline for me personally to be able to engage in a community on a regular basis who understands what it means to serve, but also chooses to live and move forward in a way that’s healthy and positive,” Hallett said.

That didn’t seem possible when Lisa Hallett first heard the news: Her husband, Army Captain John Hallett III of the 5th Stryker brigade, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, returning from a mission of goodwill.

“John had never even met his daughter, and so it seemed impossible that he would be taken from us,” Lisa Hallett said.

Their daughter, Heidi, was born three weeks after John Hallett was deployed. The third of three children, suddenly without a father. Their mother, now without her best friend.

“I just had a desperate need to survive,” Lisa Hallett said. “A time in my life where I didn’t know if I could make it to the end of the day.”

So Lisa stepped outside...and ran.

“The steps of that run, which were ugly and slow and – I mean, I had just had a baby – it was terrible!” Hallett recalled. “But it was the first time that I was able to authentically connect, really comprehend that John had died. And the impact and the weight and everything that I felt with it – it became less of a fog and all of a sudden I was really confronting really tangible emotions surrounding that loss.”

Soon, she was joining other widows from the 5th Brigade once a week – wearing their husbands' blue physical training shirts – to support each other...to honor...and remember.

Eight years later, “Wear Blue: Run To Remember,” is made up of about 45 running communities that gather on a regular basis, including the original group that’s grown by many that now meets Saturday mornings at Powderworks Park in DuPont.

“I’m so grateful that there’s a community around the world of men and women who choose to Wear Blue to honor the fallen, support our military, and really stand in solidarity with the 1% who serve our nation,” Hallett said.

Added Major Ed Pulido: “That was her way to adjust, to recover. But more importantly to utilize it as a way to tell others that ‘You know what? At the end of the day, as tragic as things may be, I’m not gonna quit.’”

Major Pulido knows sacrifice too. He lost his leg in action, a result of a roadside bomb. Today, the Purple Heart recipient works for Folds of Honor, providing academic scholarships to children in families affected by war. The organization’s founder, Major Dan Rooney, learned of Hallett when Wear Blue was featured in the magazine, “Runners World.” All three Hallett children – Jackson, Bryce, and Heidi – are now recipients of Folds of Honor scholarships.

“It’s been such a blessing to be able to have a stable academic and social environment for my children to really find and build a strong foundation for their academic careers,” Hallett said.

Hallett is this year’s keynote speaker at Saturday’s Washington Pro-Am banquet at Meridian Valley Country Club in Kent, an event that’s raised more than $100,000 for Folds of Honor over the past two years.

“To be able to raise money for those families of people who have been injured or killed in the line of duty – there’s not a better cause,” said Greg Manley, General Manager of Meridian Valley C.C. “And we’re honored we can be a part of the Folds of Honor, and we’re honored to support it.”

Folds of Honor has partnered with the PGA of America in similar events, resulting in over 13,000 scholarships awarded, from close to $100 million raised.

“For us at Folds of Honor, what we’ve been able to see with the Hallett family is that education is key to their future success,” Pulido said. “It’s their legacy of their loved one – to see that education was always something that was going to be empowering for the family.”

Empowering. Emboldening. Just like the communities that gather together - wearing blue, and running to remember the fallen every single week.

“I hope that the history and the legacy of Wear Blue is that we’ve always done the right thing at the right time for the right people,” Lisa Hallett said. “We don’t need to be the biggest to have an impact. And it’s had an impact on my life, on my children’s lives. And I think for others in the community as well.”