Pat's Run honors life and legacy of former ASU football player

<p>Pat Tillman was an Arizona State University scholar, football star and soldier who died while serving his country in Afghanistan.</p><separator></separator><p>Tillman walked away from a contract with the Arizona Cardinals after Sept. 11, 2001, to join the Army Rangers. His sense of purpose and a drive to go beyond what is expected drove his life as a star ASU football player and student who maintained a 3.88 GPA.</p><separator></separator><p>Thousands of runners will take to the streets of Tempe during Pat’s Run on April 17 to honor Tillman’s life and legacy and to raise funds for the students who are part of the Tillman Scholars programs.</p><separator></separator><p>Pat’s Run was created through the Pat Tillman Foundation, which was established after his death. Former ASU football head trainer Perry Edinger came up with the concept of a 4.2-mile run/walk around the ASU campus that culminates on the 42-yard line of Sun Devil Stadium. Tillman wore no. 42 when he played football for ASU from 1994-97.</p><separator></separator><p>Former ASU football coach Bruce Snyder, who passed away last year, served as the official starter for the race each year as he honored the player he coached and who profoundly influenced his life. Snyder’s daughter, Paige, remembers her father talking about Tillman during the last months of the former football coach’s life.</p><separator></separator><p>“My dad would say that Pat was among the top three people he admired in life,” Paige Snyder said. “Two were family friends and the other was Pat Tillman. My dad really valued people for their character.”</p><separator></separator><p>After Tillman passed away while serving his country, Paige became involved in the first Pat’s Run that was “tiny compared to what it is now.” She was a mentor for scholars, volunteered for the run and worked for a time on media and marketing. Paige remembers going to all of the local television and radio stations with her dad who would talk about Tillman.</p><separator></separator><p>“He got to talk about one of his favorite people ever,” she said.</p><separator></separator><p>Starting the race was also a special point of pride for Coach Snyder.</p><separator></separator><p>“He was absolutely honored every year that he was asked to do that. He took it very seriously and with a lot of pride,” she said. “He loved being able to tell stories about Pat on the podium. It captured people. The stories were very special to him.”</p><separator></separator><p>Paige remembers her own experiences with Tillman when she would accompany her dad to practices or ride on the team bus. “He was one of those players who were genuinely kind to me. He wasn’t someone who went overboard to suck up to the coach’s daughter. He thought it was cool that I went to practice and was very kind.”</p><separator></separator><p>And the run is a reunion of sorts for those who knew Pat Tillman, ASU football players and for people who have been connected through the run and the foundation for years. It’s also a team effort that pools the work of volunteers, ASU Athletics personnel and Tillman Foundation workers who oftentimes stay up much of the night before getting ready for the run.</p><separator></separator><p>Mark Zimmer, head equipment manager for ASU Athletics, has been involved with the race since the beginning, watching it grow to an event that attracts about 20,000 runners. Organizing logistics for a race of this size includes a host of tasks setting up registration, distributing race packets, putting up aid stations, and preparing the stadium where runners and walkers finish on the 42-yard line.</p><separator></separator><p>“We’ve done a better job of not working all night, but there generally is somewhere in the area of three to five hours of sleep the night before,” Zimmer said. “When registration opens at 5 a.m., you better be ready to go at 5.”</p><separator></separator><p>In the end, funds raised from the run will go to the Pat Tillman Foundation to provide support for the Tillman Scholars – ASU and Tillman Military Scholars programs.</p><separator></separator><p>Tillman Military Scholarships are awarded to veterans and active service members as well as their dependents to facilitate educational goals by covering expenses such as tuition, fees and books. The ASU Tillman Scholars program focuses on personal development, leadership and social action. Tillman Scholars put leadership knowledge into action through service projects in their community.</p><separator></separator><p>Although Tillman’s life ended too soon, his legacy continues through Pat’s Run and the Pat Tillman Foundation. Coach Snyder, for one, was disappointed that he never got to see Tillman live a long life.</p><separator></separator><p>“When Pat passed away, one particular thing my dad said was, ‘I’m so disappointed at what we missed out on. He was going to do amazing things with his life, and I was so looking forward to what those things were going to be,’” Paige Snyder said.</p><separator></separator><p>For more information on joining the run, go to <a href=""></a&gt; and click on “Pat’s Run.”</p>