Last update: April 29, 2009

Run-walk to help injured Marines

The community is invited to join in Saturday’s inaugural Run for the Fund 5K run/walk at LeRoy Jackson Park, which will raise money for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

The fund was established in 2004 by a group of Marine spouses organized by a nurse at Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital. After seeing first hand how devastating an injury can be not only to a Marine or sailor but also
to his or her family, the spouses created the fund to help pay for medically necessary expenses of injured Marines and sailors and their families.

When a servicemember is injured, families must often drop their responsibilities at a moment’s notice and spend weeks or months at the bedside. “Few families are prepared for the expenses they face,” according to the fund’s website

“They need help, and they need it quickly.”

Nancy Brannon and her family have been spared the pain of having a loved one injured in America’s current conflicts. But her family is no stranger to the dangers — and sacrifices — of military service.

Nancy’s son, Capt. Ryan Brannon, is a Marine officer who has served four tours in Iraq. Her son-in-law, Capt. Bobby Leonard, is a Marine serving with VX-31 at China Lake.

When she heard about the fund, Nancy enlisted the help of husband Tom and daughter Kara Leonard to organize an event in Ridgecrest that would support the fund.

“Bring your babies!” she said. “Dogs can be leashed, babies in the strollers, joggers, motorized chairs are welcome. We’re trying to make it a big family event.”

Registration for the run/walk begins at 6:30 a.m., with the event beginning at 8 a.m.

On hand will be DJ entertainment by Fritz Tunes, drinks and fruit provided by Albertsons and Wal-Mart and — if all goes well —a Marine helicopter on static display.

The course will take participants five kilometers — 3.2 miles — total. Prizes will be given to first-, second- and third-place finishers among men, women and youth. For children under 8, the organizers will hold a 100-
meter dash at the park.

Brannon encouraged everyone concerned about the cause to show support. Besides donating by registering for the event, supporters can also give donations at the event or through Brannon. She can be reached at 375-3957 or

Supporters can know that their donations will really go to help the Marines and sailors who need it, added Brannon. The event has already raised enough money to cover its modest expenses and has several
thousand dollars in advance donations.