Running for Remembrance: Clovis Celebrates 13th Annual Memorial Event

Carlos H Santoyo (Photo Steven Sandage, Clovis Roundup)

May 25, 2024 – As dawn’s first light bathed the streets of Clovis, a picturesque scene of shared stories and solemn memories unfolded at the 13th Annual Clovis Memorial Run. More than a race, this event weaves together the past and present, honoring the military heroes who sacrificed their lives for our freedom while celebrating the unwavering commitment of current servicemen and women.

The Clovis Senior Activity Center was alive with excitement as runners, walkers, and volunteers prepared for a day of heartfelt gratitude and reverence. The national anthem echoed through the crisp morning air at 7:25 a.m., marking the official start of the beloved event.

Among the sea of participants was Army veteran Carlos H. Santoyo. Draped over his backpack were the boots of Sgt. Timothy A. Monahan, a close friend and fellow soldier who tragically took his own life in March 2017. Carlos runs to raise awareness about the mental health struggles faced by military veterans. “I run for him,” Carlos said, with a photo of Sgt. Monahan in full uniform adorning the front of his backpack. Carlos proudly displays dog tags with the handwritten names of soldiers who have taken their own lives. “I do this every year to help raise awareness of the struggles that veterans face.”

As Carlos prepared to line up for the start of the 5K run, people approached to take photos with him and ask questions about the boots and their meaning. In every interaction, Carlos spread awareness for a cause that is very personal to him, keeping the memory of his friend alive.

The Clovis Veterans Memorial District, established in 1946, has been steadfast in its mission to honor U.S. military personnel and veterans. The district’s facilities and programs serve as a living memorial, promoting a legacy of service that continues to inform and inspire the people of Clovis. From providing free space to veterans’ associations to offering discounts to local service organizations, the district plays a crucial role in fostering a sense of unity and remembrance.

Denise and Maria, volunteers from the senior center, marveled at the new Clovis Senior Activity Center building. “That old building was 40 years old,” Denise remarked. “This new space gives us the opportunity to offer more classes, more activities, special events—it makes a big difference.”

The day’s events included a timed 5K run, a non-timed 2-mile walk, a 1/2-mile kids’ run, and a Senior Walk & Roll. The diverse array of activities ensured that participants of all ages and abilities could join in honoring the legacy of military service. Proceeds from the event will support the Clovis Senior Activity Center, enhancing the programs and daily activities offered to senior citizens.

The first-place overall finisher in the men’s 5K, Ken Wilkinson of Clovis, crossed the line at 18:51.49, followed closely by Charles Williams of Coarsegold at 20:25.76. In the women’s category, Breton Cameron of Fresno finished first overall, with Nicole Nast of Clovis right behind her, posting times of 23:21.83 and 23:44.39, respectively. Despite the competitive spirit, the day was less about winning and more about honoring and remembering.

The resource fair adjacent to the senior center offered a wealth of information and services for veterans, seniors, and their families. Local companies and organizations provided demonstrations, giveaways, and resources, contributing to the day’s festive and supportive atmosphere.

As the final runners crossed the finish line, participants made their way into the Clovis Senior Activity Center to enjoy a delicious pancake breakfast, sharing stories and reflecting on the importance of the day.

As the Clovis Memorial Run came to a close, participants dispersed, medals clinking and hearts full. The threads of individual stories had woven a rich mosaic of collective memory. This living fabric, vibrant with the hues of sacrifice and valor, mirrored the enduring spirit represented by the American flag. It symbolized the unity and strength of a community forever connected by the sacrifices of their heroes.