Operation One Voice brings runners to Albany - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Operation One Voice brings runners to Albany

November 8, 2005

Albany- They may not be on an official military mission, but these runners say Operation One Voice is just as important.

"The special operations community has a death rate about 15 times higher than the normal military, so what we've done is we want to make sure those kids get an education. Just like if a fireman, or policeman dies out here, I want to make sure my kids are taken care of," says Lt. Bill Stevens.

Duluth fireman and policeman Lt. Bill Stevens created the not-for-profit organization in 2002. It's mission is to raise funds and awareness for the financial needs of the children of fallen Special Operations Forces.

"So we stepped up to help out, because they stepped up for us shortly after 9-11, and we'll do this as long as they're deployed," Stevens says. '

The group of runners began in Duluth and will spend the next four days on the road until they end up in Tampa, Florida, Veteran's Day. They were cheered on by Merry Acres Middle School students as they passed through Albany.

"I think what the Marines and people in the Army are doing in Iraq is good, and they're representing our country, and I think we should support them," says 8th grader Megan Lewis.

"I believe that's great for them to show endurance, and it will teach us hopefully to endure things and to become better citizens when we grow up," adds Whitney Smith.

Also running a portion of the way is widow Jennifer McCollum, who's husband Captain Dan McCollum died nearly four years ago.

"He was a co-pilot of a KC 130 that crashed in the mountains of Pakistan, January 9th of 2002," McCollum says."I've come a long way, but I've still got a long way to go , but this is part of it for me. This is kind of giving back to where I've been and the road that I've been traveling on."

A road the runners are hoping to make a little easier as they complete their mission.

Members of Operation One Voice have raised more than $66,000 this year. Special Operations Forces consist of Army Rangers, Green Berets, Special Op Aviators, Navy Seals, Air Force Special Operations pilots, para-rescue and Marine Force Recon.

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