Run for Cash by: SSG Jedediah A. Philpot
Prior to the Run for Cash, I had established a relationship with Mrs. Nancy Lee Kelley and Mr. Bob Kelley. I had sat in their living room and had many discussions with them. Surrounded by pictures and displays of CPT Christopher Cash. I have always been struck by the upbeat attitude and welcoming by both of them. Prior to the 5K event I was asked to carry CPT Cash’s stone. I willingly accepted not knowing the emotions that come with an event for a man that I had never met or known, but through our connected service, I considered a brother in arms.
The morning of the event, I met Andrew Coleman. Andrew brought the stone and as he handed it to me he remarked it is a fun one. The triangle shaped stone seemed to have a sharp point on every side. Weighing in at roughly 22 pounds, the stone already seemed heavy. I walked into the gym and was met with silence as I stood there carrying the stone. I had been warned this would be a very emotional event, the silence that met me immediately cemented the fact that this would indeed be a memorable day.
As I walked through the gym many people stopped and asked to touch the stone, or to take pictures. I stopped at every chance and made sure everyone truly appreciated why the stone was there. As I walked outside, I met Mrs. Kelley, SSG Amanda Weber and SSG Fredis Kindelan. I carried the stone in an Army backpack, SSG Weber carried the Remembrance flag and SSG Kindelan carried our beloved American Flag. We then walked Mrs. Kelley to the starting line. We stopped and took photographs and even though Mrs. Kelley appeared well put together, as she always does, you could tell the day was starting to wear on her emotions. As we walked to the starting line CPT Cash’s stone began reminding me how sharp the edges were and how much the stone weighed.
As we approached the starting line and took more photographs we prepared for the event of rucking with CPT Cash’s stone. The race began and SSG Weber and I started rucking. We talked about how this race meant the world to Mr and Mrs Kelley. We were passing a lady when she asked if I had CPT Cash’s stone. I stated I did. It was at this moment she told us she was Christopher’s sister and thanked us for keeping his memory alive. She asked us to find her afterwards so we could talk. After the first ¼ of a mile it did not seem that we were moving fast enough. So we began running. Each step the stone dug into my back and reminded me of the trial and tribulations that CPT Cash must have certainly faced in the moments before his death. This is where the emotions really started to kick in. As we ran back up Saco Avenue we were running uphill, traffic was stopped and everyone in traffic waved and thanked us for our service, little did they know that I was carrying the stone of a fallen hero. This made me think how many people may be oblivious to the hero’s that are no longer with us, but that many people still carry with them to this day. While the emotional toll may not be the same as carrying a stone, the weight is still the same. Dragging you down with each step, digging into your back and still carrying on without people seeing the true reason that you are in pain.
As we neared the finish line we ran harder and faster. Catherine Frost was attempting to take pictures and we did little to help her, Sorry Catherine. We came across the finish line and not in our best time ever, but still leaving everything on the race track. As we finished, I became very ill and certainly used every ounce of energy that I had left in the final moments of the race. Catherine took pictures of all of us. I carried the stone to the gym where we escorted the stone to the awards table. Mrs. Kelley thanked me and my emotions running high, I could do little to not get choked up. We stood by and waited for the awards ceremony. As the song God Bless America was sung. Jodie, CPT Cash’s sister, approached.
With tears in her eyes she hugged me and thank me for being there and carrying the stone, she then stated that SSG Weber and I were as close as she could ever be to her brother again. Tears started to form and fell from SSG Weber and I. Nothing could have prepared me for the emotion of this event. This is an event I was proud to be part of. If asked again next year, I would certainly carry the same stone and endure these emotions all over again. RIP CPT Cash, RANGERS LEAD THE WAY.