MADISON, Conn. (WTNH) — This is the second year a 5K run will take place at Hammonassett Beach State Park on the first Saturday in November and there’s a very special reason it happens right before Veterans Day.
The APK 5K honors Capt Andrew Pedersen-Keel. At 28 he was an accomplished platoon leader and the commander of his special forces green beret team.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the path he chose and I know that he died doing exactly what he wanted to do,” says his mother Helen Pedersen-Keiser.
She speaks to News8 from her home in Madison where pictures of her son and the medals and honors he earned are on display.
One picture was taken March 11, 2013 just ten minutes before a 20 year old Afghan grabbed a machine gun and ambushed the Captain and his Special Forces team.
A loss felt by family, friends, and an entire community.
“Because of all this love and all this support I am a better person and an advocate,” says Pedersen-Keiser.
Turning sorrow into support – Pedersen-Keiser has made it her mission to help others who have suffered the same loss.
The run honoring her son supports those efforts and brings together civilians and military personal who gain a mutual admiration.
“Last year’s race was phenomenal in its joyfulness and it’s energy,” says Pedersen-Keiser with a smile.
The 5K Run also includes a Ruck Sack March where participants carry back packs full of food donated to the pantry at St. George church in Guilford where Andrew’s funeral was held.
“I don’t believe that this is god’s will,” says Pedersen-Keiser. “It’s just something I have to accept.”
Each participant at the run will receive a challenge coin with the APK Charities logo on the front and Andrew’s Special Forces shield on the back.
It is always the highest compliment to receive one of those coins and it will be on Saturday.
The run starts at 10am with registration beginning at 8am.