Update Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1:30 p.m.: Even though not all of the donations have been counted, it seems as if Bubba's Belly Run did not raise as much money as race organizer, Nicki Bunting would have hoped.
The 5K race, which took place Sunday, Sept. 26, raised about $40,000 this year and had about 650 participants, Bunting said. Last year, the event's inaugural race drew more than 800 participants and raised more than $56,000.
"Not at all my goal as it's significantly less than last year, but I'm still pleased and know the money will be used for great things," Bunting said in an e-mail.
The money will go to a fund established by Bunting to help families who have lost loved ones in war. A portion of this year's proceeds will also be donated to organizations already working with widowed military families, including the American Widow Project and A Soldier's Child.
Also, race results for men and women participants were posted online. The first place overall runner, Paul Jacobson finished the race in 18 minutes, 33 seconds. The first place female runner, Kristen Felix clocked in at 23 minutes, 2 seconds. Visit the website for all other official times.
Update Monday, Sept. 27: Rain didn't stop more than 650 people from participating in the second annual Bubba's Belly Run and paying tribute to fallen soldiers at the 5K race at Bullis School on Sunday, Sept. 26.
Nicki Bunting, the widow of Army Captain Brian "Bubba" Bunting and the founder of Bubba's Belly Run, said grief is a lifelong process and the 5K race is a way to cope with some of the grief. Bubba's Belly Run took place on the couple's wedding anniversary.
Bunting started Bubba's Belly Run as a way to remember her husband who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on February 24, 2009 — only four days after returning to duty from a visit with his family in Potomac. The race is also a way to remember the other fallen heroes in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The proceeds from the race go to a fund established by Bunting to help families who have lost loved ones in war. A portion of this year's proceeds will also be donated to organizations already working with widowed military families, including the American Widow Project and A Soldier's Child.
More than 5,700 small American flags lined the perimeter of Bullis, where Bubba went to school. Each flag represented a soldier killed in the wars. A group of military wives from Ft. Meade participated in the run as a show of support for "those that made the ultimate sacrifice," said Katherine Moore, whose husband is in the Air Force.
"We all broke down as we came upon the race site and saw the flags," Moore said.
For many of the women who organized and ran the race, it is part of the life-long process of "learning how to live again," said Taryn Davis, founder of the American Widow's Project, one of the organizations receiving donations from the event.
Davis traveled from Texas to support Bunting, whom she met a few months after Bubba's death. Davis founded the American Widow's Project three years ago to help support military widows after her own husband was killed by multiple roadside bombs in May 2007.
"Moving on doesn't mean forgetting about my husband, it means I am content, happy, and look forward to the future," Davis said.
There were many others showing their support for the fallen and their wives. Twenty-four-year-old Kristen Felix, the female first place winner of the 5K recently enlisted in the Navy and was looking for a race with a military connection, she said. Felix reports for duty in March.
First place winner overall was Paul Jacobson, Winston Churchill High School's cross-country and track coach. Jacobson won by a landslide with two runners from his teams in the top ten. Churchill students, Johnny Franceski placed 3rd and Johnny Hein placed 6th.
Jeff Bass, a student at Bullis, came in second place overall.
Editor's note: In an earlier version of this story, we misspelled Paul Jacobson's last name. We regret the error.