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Pat's Run profile: Former Marine prepares to run in 10th benefit race

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

Editor's note: This is one of five capsules looking at people who are involved in Pat's Run, the 4.2-mile run to honor late Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who died in 2004 by friendly fire while serving as an Army Ranger. The 10th annual Pat's Run is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, ending at the 42-yard line of Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium. There also will be 34 shadow runs around the country.

Name: Matt Wilson

Age: 47

Occupation: Sports official/referee from Gilbert, Arizona, a Phoenix suburb, and retired member of the Marine Corps after eight years of service

Years running: "All my life."

How long participating in Pat's Run: Wilson has run in all nine of the Pat's Runs in Tempe, Arizona and has been a volunteer for race registration for the past six years. "I saw this run 10 years ago. Me and my wife are both military and we came out to do the first run. We've been doing it ever since."

Why Pat's Run is important: "We had just moved here in '01. We knew the story about Pat Tillman. When you talk about ASU, he's a legend here. He gave up everything for the right reason. ... It takes a lot to be an enlisted person. When you volunteer yourself, you're making a sacrifice. To hear Pat's story and to hear that they were going to do a (run) tribute to him, we got on board from the get-go. A number of years ago, I thought I could do more. They were asking for volunteers, so I filled out the online form, started six years ago and I've been doing it ever since."

What Pat Tillman's legacy means: "It's just one of those stories about a guy who saw a need. It wasn't so much as sending the next guy out, he said, 'I'm going to do something about it.' I met his brother Kevin last year and I met his dad a couple of years ago as a volunteer. It's just a great family. I didn't know any of them before any of this, but I understood the story. I knew about Pat and his brother enlisting and wanting to do more than sitting back. That's the kind of family they are. This is such a great tribute to a fallen hero."

Biggest memory from the race:"I was doing this run ... and I ran past this guy who was carrying the American flag. I was so inspired by that about five or six years ago I stopped worrying about my race time and I started carrying the American flag. I've been doing it ever since. There's probably maybe a dozen of us that carry American flags the whole 4.2 miles. It just means a little bit more. I've had people come up behind me and say, 'I saw your American flag three miles ago. I just wanted to run up and catch up with you.' They just run with me for a little while as I'm carrying the flag. ... I just think if Pat was doing this run, he would carry the flag."

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