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Pat's Run – a family affair


March 16, 2011

It’s a true family affair when the Webster’s take to the streets of Tempe for Pat’s Run.

This year will mark the seventh year that Brian Webster has completed the run with his son, Jaxson Webster, who started participating in the Kid’s Run at age 3.

 “I look back at the first pictures (from the run) and I’m basically carrying him,” Brian said. “Another 5 years and he’ll be stopping and waiting for me. He’ll be saying, ‘See you at the finish, Dad.’” 

Brian’s wife, Shannon, has missed just one Pat’s Run since it started and daughter, Shayley, 8, will tackle the longer run for the second time this year on April 16.

“My wife goes with my daughter on the 4.2 mile run. Last year was Shayley’s first year to do the longer run,” Brian said. “My son loves it, especially the finish on the field. He wears his Tillman shirts to school all of the time.”

Pat’s Run honors the legacy of Pat Tillman, a star ASU football player who later sacrificed a professional football career after Sept. 11, 2001. He joined the Army Rangers and died while serving his country in Afghanistan.

Jaxson holds a special place in his heart for Tillman as does the entire family. Shannon knew him at ASU when she was a student and Jaxson dedicated his third-grade project to Tillman’s life when the assignment called for a project on a heroic person.

“I put posters up and pictures and how he died. People didn’t know what friendly fire was so I had to explain that to them,” Jaxson said.

Brian, who teaches physical education to elementary school children in Queen Creek, painted a picture of Pat Tillman on the wall of his school’s gym. He’s inspired by Tillman who stood up for what he believed in and never sacrificed his principles.

“He operated under standards that a lot of us would like to be able to do. He lived his entire life like that and sacrificed his life for his principles and beliefs,” Brian said.

Tillman’s influence goes beyond the run for the Websters. Brian decided to come to ASU to earn his master’s degree in physical education because this was Tillman’s university. Webster could have taken easier options to complete his degree, but he knew that an ASU degree would mean more to him.

He assigns his students a writing project about Tillman every year called “remember his name.” Students include information such as how they can make a positive influence on someone’s life like Pat did and who are the people in their lives who most remind them of Pat Tillman. After giving them the option over the past five years to write about someone else if they don’t like Tillman, not a single child has taken him up on the offer.

“I just want them to learn about somebody who I think is an important person,” Brian said.

And he’ll do his part to honor the life and legacy of Pat Tillman during Pat’s Run on April 16, an event that pays tribute to a hero to his family and to many others.

More information about Pat’s Run may be found at: http://www.pattillmanfoundation.org/pats-run