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Jul. 17, 2018
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April, May events honor Fallen Heroes

By Pamela A. Keene
 
As a fireman in Hall County, Steve Durling has seen the effects of tragedy. Some people would just consider it part of their job, but Durling uses it as the impetus to help others beyond his regular work week. 
 
He has made it his work to support Fallen Heroes of Georgia, and the group is hosting two events this spring – Fallen Heroes of Georgia 5K at Lanier Islands on April 14, and a golf tournament at Monroe’s Providence Country Club on May 21.
 
“My father and grandfathers were in the military and I’ve realized that today people don’t typically do as much as they can to honor and respect the soldiers who fight for us and our freedom,” said Durling, who became a firefighter in 2001 before 9-11. “Yes, as firefighters we do put ourselves in harm’s way, but the people in the military do so much more because they take the fight to the bad guys. It’s been a hard war to fight, this war on terrorism.” 
 
Durling began volunteering to work with several military-related groups. By 2008, Durling realized that he wanted to do even more, so he founded the Fallen Heroes of Georgia 5K. 
 
The group’s first race was held in 2009 with more than 1,000 runners. Attendance has steadily grown since then to between 1,400 and 1,600 runners. “We want even more participants this year,” Durling said. “We’d really like to have 2,000 this year, and the first 2,000 to register will each receive a Fallen Heroes of Georgia Finishers Medal.”
 
The group also hosts an annual golf tournament at Monroe’s Providence Country Club. Registration is open for this year’s May 21 event. Fallen Heroes supports various charities that benefit soldiers and their families. Among other things, Fallen Heroes provides educational grants and scholarships.
 
About five years ago, Durling met a couple from Flowery Branch who had lost their Marine son in Iraq in January 2005. “Steve saw our car with the memorial mural for son Darrell and left us a note,” said Mary Schumann, who along with her husband Rick both served for 30 years in the Air Force. “He was so kind to reach out to us and tell us how much he appreciated the sacrifice that Darrell had made. My husband Rick and I have been friends with Steve ever since.”
 
This year’s race course at Lanier Islands will be lined with 229 individual signs listing the names of the 229 Georgia soldiers who have given their lives since 2001 in the war on terrorism. The event will include a tribute with bagpipes and the playing of “Taps.”
 
“We want people to come out and run or walk the course, but we also want people to come out and support the participants,” Durling said. “It is so important that we let these families know what their sacrifice means to the rest of us.”
 
For more info about Fallen Soldiers of Georgia or to register for either event, visit www.fallensoldiersofgeorgia.com or call Durling at 678 794-6135.

Posted online 3/30/18
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