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5K event to be held in Pfc. Toppen’s honor

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 10:44 p.m. CDT
Aaron Toppen

MOKENA – A 5K event will be held in honor of Pfc. Aaron Toppen, the American soldier killed June 9 in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan.

The inaugural “Our Fallen Hero” 5K run/walk is scheduled for Sept. 27 at Willowview Park in Mokena.

At the request of the Toppen family, proceeds from the event will go to the Pat Tillman Foundation, according to a news release from event organizers. The nonprofit organization invests in military veterans and their spouses through the creation of academic scholarships.

“It was always our hope that if Aaron had returned back to the U.S. and decided to take a different path outside the military, that he would have had the opportunity to seek out assistance through these types of programs,” Pamela Toppen, Aaron’s mother, said in the news release.

The family chose the Pat Tillman Foundation because the organization gives veterans opportunity upon returning home that they may not have had otherwise, Pamela Toppen said.

The inaugural “Our Fallen Hero” 5K run/walk will start at 8 a.m. The event will include entertainment, post-race refreshments, a raffle and an awards ceremony.

Part of the event’s route will take participants down Townline Road, which will have an honorary designation of Aaron S. Toppen Memorial Drive in September. Townline Road runs from 187th Street to Francis Road.

Those interested in sponsorship or volunteering opportunities can visit the event’s website: www.ourfallenhero5k.com/.

Race registration is $30 for people over 18 and $15 for people under 18. Online registration ends Sept. 21. Race-day registration will be available until 7:30 a.m. Information about the race is available on the event’s website.

Toppen was among five American troops who died last month in southern Afghanistan from an air strike in one of the deadliest friendly-fire incidents in the war’s history. Military officials believe the air strike was called in after the Taliban ambushed Toppen’s unit.

Toppen, who graduated from Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort in 2013, was buried June 24 at St. John’s Cemetery in Mokena. Thousands of people lined the route of the 19-year-old’s funeral procession to honor him.

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