Oct 28th 08:00 AM CDT
Semper Fi 5k
A History of the MCL/TEL Semper Fi 5K Charity Run for Children – 28 Oct. 2023
“A 39-year tradition of giving to charity in the greater Pensacola area” October 28, 2023, marks the 39th year for the MCL/TEL Semper Fi 5k Charity Run. The origin of the run was as a fundraiser for the children and families of the Marines and Sailors who had perished in the Marine Barracks Beirut, Lebanon terrorist bombing attack on October 23, 1983. Marine 1stLt Chris Holzworth, having recently reported to the Marine Air Training and Support Group-21 (MATSG-21), Naval Air Station Pensacola, for flight training, presented the idea for the charity run to the Commanding
Officer, Colonel Robert “Bull” Bland, USMC. MATSG-21 adopted the idea and became the first sponsor of the event, initially named The Beirut Relief 10K Run. Colonel Bland assigned 1st Lt Chris Holzworth, who had initiated the idea, as the first Race Director.
NAS Pensacola hosted the first run on Armed Forces Day in May 1984 with Brigadier General Joseph Hoar, USMC representing Headquarters Marine Corps and receiving the proceeds of the race. Over 500 military and civilian runners participated in that first event which contributed over $4,000 for a Marine Corps Scholarship Fund established for the children of the families who had lost loved ones in the Beirut attack. The race continued for several years to be sponsored and executed by MATSG-21 with all proceeds going to the scholarship fund. Eventually, the command shifted the race proceeds to Non-Profit Children’s Organizations of the Greater Pensacola area in keeping with “the tradition of giving to the children.” Each year Semper Fi 5K runners are joined by local active-duty military units, such as MATSG-21/23, several Naval Aviation training squadrons, and local high school JROTC units who run the event in formation.
In 2014, because the military was heavily engaged in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), leadership for the race changed to the Marine Corps League (MCL), Cpl J. R. Spears Detachment 066. At the same time, TEL Staffing & HR (TEL) of Pensacola joined in partnership with the MCL to provide the leadership, resources, and the major funding for the race. This year, will see a new race location, Pensacola Beach, and a new race host, The Sandshaker. The fast and flat race course takes you from the Gulfside Pavilion at Pensacola Beach, through the residential areas of the island, and back to the iconic “Beach Ball” parking lot. The post-race party with food and drinks and the awards ceremony will be held at the Sandshaker.
The event is always dedicated to a distinguished veteran who has served our Nation. This year’s race honors Navy Airman Ryan Blackwell, heroically wounded six times in a terrorist attack at NAS Pensacola, while shielding co-workers from the gunman.
Going into the 39th year of the Semper Fi 5K run’s legacy, the event has raised nearly $700,000 for local charities. This year’s recipients are Santa Rosa Kids’ House, Vision of Hope, Be the Miracle, and Veterans in Distress Fund, Gulf Coast Kid’s House and the Ryan Blackwell Foundation.
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