WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — Over 600 people took part in the Run to Remember 2022 5k at Raccoon River Park on Sunday morning.

The event is organized by Iowa Remembers, an organization that advocates for action awareness for Iowa service members. This was the 13th annual 5k that Iowa Remembers hosted, and the money that is raised through the registration and event sponsors is used to honor Gold Star families and their service member they lost.

“Because we have that 600 or 700 mark, our goal throughout the year is to be able to connect with families that have service members, honoring the Gold Star families,” said Anna Fuller, the Director of Iowa Remembers. “We like to do things, random times throughout the year. It might be the month that their service member passed away or maybe their own birthday or the holidays. Just so they know that their sacrifice isn’t forgotten.”

Fuller’s husband is active duty in the military. She said that this run every year is great for military families to connect, honor the fallen and remember their sacrifice.

“It very first started when Iowa had that huge deployment in 2010 where 2,500 of our soldiers deployed,” said Fuller. In their first year they had 200 participants and got up to almost 1,300 before the COVID 19 pandemic. Now, years later, attendance is picking up again and the run is filling up with people who don’t have any family members in the service.

“What we found is when people come and they are able to put faces to names that they heard it just makes the event so much more important to them,” said Fuller. “We have a lot of family members that come as well and I know to them to be able to honor and just never forget their service member’s sacrifice.”

Fuller said she hopes those who don’t have any military ties come out and see the photos of military members who have passed either in the service or an illness related to combat. A line of photos surrounded the final stretch of the 5k, showing service members from Iowa who sacrificed everything for their country.

Registration for next year’s 5k can be done on Iowa Remembers website. The run takes place the last Sunday of September every year.