11-year-old Florida boy runs to honor first responders


(KELO) – Deputy Lee Weber of the Hughes County Sheriff’s Office lost his life after saving his son. Weber jumped into the Missouri River on July 3 after his eight-year-old son fell from a moving boat.

We introduce you to 11-year-old Zechariah Cartledge. He is the founder of Running 4 Heroes Inc., a non-profit organization he started when he was only ten years old. It’s based in Winter Springs, Florida, northeast of Orlando. Zechariah honors people around the nation, including Deputy Weber, by running.

At the age of seven, Zechariah began competing in various 5K events, including the “Tunnel to Towers” 5K in Orlando. That run sparked the idea for Running for Heroes.

He has run 540 miles since starting the organization, a figure which includes one mile each for law enforcement officers, firefighters, and border patrol agents who have lost their lives in the line of duty in the last year and a half.

“Every single time I have a new run to do, I always get upset with that, because I know that that’s another community that’s grieving through a loss of somebody, so I don’t like to run in those situations,” Zechariah said.

Families of the fallen receive a flag Zechariah had with him as he ran. Every run is broadcast on Facebook Live and the flag is mailed to a family or department.

“Tonight I’m running for Chief Deputy Lee R. Weber. He worked with the Hughes County Sheriff’s Office in South Dakota and his end of watch was July 3, 2020,” Zechariah said on July 9, as he was about to begin his run honoring Deputy Weber.

“Normally police and fire funerals are a large scale event attended by hundreds, if not, thousands of people, and that couldn’t happen during COVID, yet, Zechariah was out there running. In some cases that was the only memorial that some of folks were able to have,” said Sgt. Tim Nazzaro of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and secretary of Running 4 Heroes Inc.

Zechariah’s message has been heard around the country, including South Dakota.

“It’s amazing how all these people are learning about these fallen heroes now, and I love seeing all the support from all around the nation because of my running and I love seeing the support we get every single run,” Zechariah said.

Carter: “Why do you do this?”

Zechariah: “I just do this to help out people through the darkest time in their life. I don’t think anybody should be going through what people are feeling, especially their family. What I like to think of is, imagine me losing my dad, my mom, or one of my siblings, or one of my friends. That’s why I do this mission, so everybody who knew the fallen hero I run for, knows that they will never be forgotten.”

If you would like to learn more about Running 4 Heroes Inc., click here.

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