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Yuman running in Chicago Marathon to honor fallen soldier
Cort Bacon is putting his money where his mouth is. Better yet, he's putting his sore feet where his heart is.
The 36-year-old Yuman has been selected again to be a member of this year's Pat Tillman Team. The father of two will be running in the 35th annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7 to raise money for the Pat Tillman Foundation.
Bacon hopes to raise $2,500 in honor of the man who in his view paid the ultimate price. After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Tillman gave up a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals football team to enlist in the Army along with his brother. The Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.
Bacon attended Arizona State University at the same time as Tillman. He remembers watching the football player streaking down the field with his long hair flying out from underneath his helmet. After playing at ASU, Tillman was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.
Last year, Bacon ran the New York City Marathon and raised $5,700, surpassing his goal of $4,240. He had based the amount on Tillman's uniform numbers —“42” at ASU and “40” with the Cardinals.
Representing Team Tillman at the New York marathon and visiting the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was a “life-changing experience,” Bacon said.
“Being from across the country, we all dealt with Sept. 11. It affected us profoundly, but when you actually go there and see the scope, the size of the buildings, and how it affected the people there, you realize it's not only about living our lives. We're all connected.”
He and other members of Team Tillman gathered at the NFL headquarters, where he got to see the Super Bowl trophy and rings, met Tillman's widow and others runners, some of whom intimately knew Tillman.
“Each person talked about why they had joined the team. It was pretty inspiring,” Bacon said.
He also met a Tillman Military Scholar. “These are the scholars we are trying to raise money for. He explained how the scholarship had affected his life,” Bacon said.
The foundation offers scholarships to veterans who want to continue their education. To date, it has awarded $3.2 million in scholarships to 230 veterans representing 34 states and attending 71 academic institutions nationwide.
The ultimate goal is to provide $3.6 million a year in educational awards. “This is in honor of the last NFL contract Pat walked away from to join the U.S. Army,” Bacon said.
He has donated some of the fees from his own home inspection business in Yuma.
Bacon and his fellow team members also toured the 9/11 memorial at the site of the World Trade Center. “We got to see the reflecting pools. It was pretty powerful.”
They also stopped by the FDNY Ten House, home of the FDNY Memorial Wall, a 56-foot bronze bas-relief sculpture. The firehouse is located across from the World Trade Center site.
“They were the first to go in,” Bacon said, referring to the Sept. 11 attacks. As a result, FDNY Engine Company 10 and FDNY Ladder Company 10 lost several “brothers.”
The station also “adopted” Tillman, Bacon explained. “All hats have the number 10, in recognition of Pat's sacrifice.”
In spite of announcing last year that the New York marathon would be his last, Bacon decided to sign up again.
“Last year I ended up running with a bummed knee. I hope to make better time this year.
“A month later you forget how much it hurt,” he added, laughing. “I was sitting on the couch, getting fat, and I thought I better start running again.”
In addition, Bacon said he wants continue honoring Tillman and other troops.
“It's something to remember. We don't want to forget Sept. 11, but there are a number of troops still in harm's way. It's for them we do this, to honor the sacrifice they make to keep us all safe.”
Bacon is asking Yuma individuals, businesses and groups to help his cause. To contribute, go to his personal fund-raising page.
To contact Bacon, call 580-9539. For more background on the Tillman Foundation, go to www.pattillmanfoundation.org.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.