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Pat's Run celebrates life, legacy of Pat Tillman

March 23, 2011

Thousands of people will take to the streets of Tempe on April 16 to honor the legacy of Pat Tillman, a former Arizona State University football star who walked away from a professional football career with the Arizona Cardinals to serve in the military after Sept. 11, 2001.

Tillman was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.

Pat’s Run pays tribute to a man who stood up for what he believed in, worked hard and expected the best from himself and those he came in contact with. The run is the signature fundraising event of 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.

Former ASU teammate Grey Ruegamer will run for Pat this year. He remembers Tillman as a tough linebacker who held teammates accountable.

“Pat was a great teammate because he wanted the best for you and he would challenge you. Some people said he wasn’t big enough or fast enough to play and he proved them wrong,” Ruegamer said. “He was one of few guys who knew where he wanted to be in four years at 18 years old (to play football and make a life for himself after college). He had a game plan long before the rest of us did.”

“He had values and virtues and that’s what he walked with,” Ruegamer added. “Pat was a strong-willed guy, but he was also very intelligent. … There are so many things that Pat was. He was a very dynamic individual.” 

Organizers of Pat’s Run are expecting the event to sell out this year after more than 30,000 people took part last year. They’re asking participants to register early online at Another change this year is assigning participants starting corrals based on their estimated finish time so that the flow of the race is more conducive to the athletic level of each participant. Race organizers have also made the race greener with less paper used to market the event and recycling available at the race. 

“We’re encouraging everybody to sign up online before April 8. The goal is to have no race-day registration,” said Mark Zimmer, ASU Athletics equipment manager. “We’ll also have a lost child area on the field.”

Zimmer has worked the race since the beginning, watching it grow to an event that attracts about 30,000 people from “a grass-roots operation with mainly volunteers working with around 4,000 or 5,000 entrants.”

Pat’s Run benefits the Pat Tillman Foundation with funds raised from the event supporting  programs created to pay tribute to Tillman’s’ commitment to leadership and service, the ASU and Tillman Military Scholars programs.

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 Tillman Scholars – Leadership Through Action program at ASU focuses on personal development, leadership and social action.

Additional information about the Pat Tillman Foundation and Pat’s Run may be found at