Editor's Note: The following was provided by the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs Office, Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
AL ASAD, Iraq -- The 138th Quartermaster Company from Brazil is big on logistics and supporting Multi-National Force-West, but they are in short supply of runners.
Half-marathon runners that is.
This mini-marathon was hosted to raise donations for the Maj. McClung Scholarship Fund.
This was no ordinary day for the 138th QM Co., Soldier, Staff Sgt. Kimberly Calkins, Brazil.
She had run a few mini-marathons in the past years, but did not take a lot of time to train for this year's particular event.
Nor had she ever ran 13.1 miles in the desert.
It was going to take extra motivation to go the distance.
As a rule, the night prior would be spent getting ready for the race: Laying out the clothes to wear, water belt, fuel gel, hat and finally, the preparation of the race bib.
The race bib was the most important part of the motivation. Staff Sgt. Calkins picked up on a memento of a fellow runner of adding the names of people to run for during the race.
This could be people close to you who had passed away or perhaps had donated funds toward sponsoring the runner for a race.
But for Calkins, the names were former cancer patients. Thirteen family and friends who had been afflicted by the disease at one time or another, in various forms, with some surviving and some not, were listed on her race bib.
The motivation started when her father came down with lung cancer.
This would not be his first time. Small skin cancer cells and throat cancer had already been battled and won.
Staff Sgt. Calkins took up the sword and added her father's name, "Swede," to her race bib and off she went.
One name per mile was added until 13 names appeared on this mini-marathon bib.
A variety of types of cancer were represented: Skin, throat, lung, liver, bone, brain, prostate, breast and ovarian.
Each mile, another person would be thought about and remembered, and serve as motivation to run the next mile -- the next mile for someone who may not otherwise be able to do so.
After two hours and one minute, the race was over, accomplished, and in honor of people who have their own races to run in battling cancer.
No money was raised on their behalf, but the sentiment is the same.
It is Calkins' goal to organize a race to officially honor her father's battle with cancer when she returns home from Iraq.
We continue to run races in honor of great people, people like Maj. McClung, and hopefully, someday, our races against cancer will be won as well.