By Lauren Tinker
Friday, June 17, 2016 | 12:06 AM
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank each and every person that participated in or helped in any way with the 6th Annual Mark Forester Price of Freedom Race. To say I'm humbled is an understatement. I am beyond grateful to those who give so much each year to make this event possible. It is a huge undertaking that cannot be done by myself. The Friday night before the race, we hosted our second annual spaghetti dinner for all race participants, active duty military, Veteran's, and volunteers. The supper has become an enjoyable time to fellowship with and get to know many of those whose lives have been affected by SrA Mark Forester. The supper is completely sponsored and cooked by members of our community. I could never begin to thank each one individually but I do want all who make the dinner possible to know how much it means to me to see the dinner come together and run so smoothly. Also, the race and the walk continues to grow significantly in participation each year. With this kind of growth, my job becomes more and more involved. However, I do not fear or stress because I know the community that stands behind me. The race continues to be so successful because of this community, my community and for this I'm grateful. First, I'd like to say a huge thank you to our Mayor. Mayor Sunseri is a loving and kind man, one who cares for and works hard for our community and its members. He strives to go above and beyond the call of duty, and I appreciate him for all the time and effort he puts into making our community better and the support he gives to The Mark Forester Foundation. Second I'd like to say thank you to our Chief of Police Kyle Reogas. Mr. Reogas is a humble man that dedicates valuable time to our community and the efforts of our foundation, time he will never get back. Third I'd like to say thank you to Our Fire Chief Phillip Weaver. Mr. Weaver is a hard working man full of compassion and goodness. His willingness to make our city a better place, support the Mark Forester Foundation, and to honor Mark is remarkable. Without these three men and all those they work with supporting me and my efforts, this race would not be possible. I can say with 100% assurance we are a blessed community. We are blessed to have the people we have taking care of us and this city we love so much. And if this love and support were not enough, I am then blessed with a community full of gracious, thoughtful, and kind people. I would like to attempt to thank as many of them as I can. To the staff at the Northwest Alabamian and Mr. Harold Bearden thank you; thank you for caring and for your countless hours of service you dedicate to sharing information and honoring SrA Mark Forester. To Dr. Miller HCS superintendent, Dr. Sutherland HHS principal, Mr. Wilcoxson HMS principal, Coach Frazier HES principal, and all Haleyville City School Faculty and Staff thank you; thank you for your time, support, and encouragement year round as I plan and prepare for the race. You make my job easier and more enjoyable. To Jeremy Wyz and the Haleyville Rescue Squad, thank you for dedicating your entire Saturday to help the race run so smoothly. To all the businesses and churches in Haleyville thank you for donating time and money to support the race. Thank you for changing the signs in front of your buildings to welcome runners and walkers, thank you for hanging posters, and thank you for allowing me to interrupt your day with spontaneous visits and calls. You are the foundation to making this race possible. To Mr. Johnny Wilson and those at the National Guard Armory thank you for providing me with so many resources to help take the race to the next level. To Jessica Riddle and Jenni Dollar thank you for the beautiful pictures, I feel blessed to have such talented people willing to capture such amazing moments throughout the weekend. To my volunteers, my friends, thank you for praying for me, working countless hours to make my life less stressful, and for supporting me through the good and the bad. To Dwight Thomas and the VFW, thanks for your time and service not only to our country but to the race. I would also like to say thank you to Todd Barton and all those who made the Friday night Spaghetti dinner possible. It is a success only because you care so much. To Bear Creek First Baptist Church, New Prospect Baptist Church, The Haleyville Women's Auxiliary, the Barbra Todd Family, the Haleyville Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the amazing cooks Shannon Lollar - Michael Campbell - Randy Self - Blue Russell for sponsoring stops along the walk route. Y'all made the walk better than we could have ever imagined. Thank you for your time and support. Last, to my family, thank you for throwing your entire self into making this event the best it could ever be, I could not live without you. Dear community, I love each of you more than words will ever be able to express. I can still remember the physical pain I felt the day Mark so valiantly laid his life down for this wonderful country of ours. To coordinate this race and honor him each year allows me peace. To witness this community, my community, support my efforts allows me joy. Thank you.