ROSEBURG, Ore. (KOIN) — More than 1,500 people gathered for the Umpqua Strong 5k and 9k event on the first anniversary of the shooting that claimed 9 lives on the Umpqua Community College campus.
Under a banner that read, “Together we move forward,” the participants took part to honor and remember those lives lost on Oct. 1, 2015.
“There’s times when it’s hard and there’s days when you wake up and you can’t get him off your mind and it’s tough,” Jace Martineau, who was friends with victim Treven Anspach, told KOIN 6 News.
One man, Greg Kovach, carried 230 pounds on his back as he walked the 9k. That’s the amount 20-year-old Anspach weighed when he was shot to death along with 8 other students and staff before the gunman killed himself.
Kovach told KOIN 6 News he managed the grueling task by taking frequent breaks and keeping his focus on the victims of the tragedy and their families.
“A couple of the victims, people that have been shot, came over and gave me a hug and said ‘we were in the classroom,'” Kovach said. “It’s just an emotional thing.”
He completed the entire 9k in 5 hours.
“It’s a day we never wanted to have,” race organizer Randi Feland said. “We’re moving through this road of healing together. We don’t want anyone to feel alone, we don’t want anyone to feel that what they’re feeling is not normal.”
Proceeds from Saturday’s event will go to UCC scholarships in honor of the victims.