It's been three years since 23-year-old Cpl. Kyle Schneider was killed in Afghanistan. Numerous friends and central New York neighbors gathered along the inner harbor in Syracuse tonight to celebrate the fallen marine with a memorial run.
Many of the runners, including tonight's organizer Ellen Brunet, had never met Schneider, but have been deeply moved by his sacrifice. Brunet has run numerous races, including the Marine Corps Marathon in 2012 and 2013, in Schneider's honor.
"We just don't want anyone to forget Kyle," said Brunet, who runs with the Cpl. Kyle R. Schneider Foundation Freedom Team. "That's his parents' biggest fear. that people will forget his smile and the way he gave his life for his country. Today, not just in central New York, but all across the country people are running in his honor and to honor service men and women who have given their lives for our country."
After surviving a direct hit from an IED blast, Schneider insisted upon being sent back to his combat post to rejoin his fellow soldiers. Schneider was awarded for distinguished combat service and received two purple hearts, one posthumously.
"His dedication to his country, that's what inspired me," said Scott Cunningham, who'd also never met Schneider but runs for the Kyle Schneider Foundation Freedom Team. "I thought the least I could do was go out and try to honor his name and his legacy."
On this warm day in June, Schneider's legacy of bravery, dedication and honor only seems to be growing.
"This is just a special way to keep Kyle's legacy warm and alive," said Schneider's great aunt and godmother, Carole Ozark. "He will never be forgotten."