Thousands of runners pounded the pavement with heavy hearts Sunday for the 'Run for the Fallen' at Veterans Memorial Park in Tampa.
It honors the servicemen and women who died serving our country.
Race organizers estimated the number of participants at 4,000, but said an additional 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil Saturday night.
"It was phenomenal. The outpouring of the community has just been beyond anything we could imagine," said Cyd Deathe, Executive Director of the Tampa Area Marine Parents Association, adding this year's turnout far exceeded that of 2012 when about 3,000 people attended.
The event also honored about 30 families in attendance who lost loved ones at war.
"You never really think it's going to be you," said Erin Berky, whose husband, Air Force Staff Sgt. Bryan Berky, died in Afghanistan in 2009. "He was about a month away from coming home when his convoy was ambushed and he was killed in action."
Erin has been taking care of their now 4-year-old son on her own while she continues to cope with the loss. She said seeing so many people, many of them strangers, come out to show their support helps with the healing process.
"This is all part of that," she said. "It helps heal all of us, I think, to come and be a part of this and it keeps us connected."
The event included a 10-K run, a 5-K walk and a one-mile walk/run. The Fallen Floridians Tribute display, made up of crosses for each fallen Florida service member, was on display.
When the 'Run for the Fallen' began six years ago a little more than 230 people attended.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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