ROCKFORD, Iowa - It's a tragedy that shook the small community of Rockford: nearly 8 years ago, one of their own was laid to rest.
35 year-old Jon "JT" Tumilson, a Navy SEAL and hero, was one of 30 Americans killed when the chinook helicopter he was in was shot down in Afghanistan in August 2011.
On Saturday, participants hustled up and down hills and dodged rain drops during the annual "Go Crush It" 5K challenge at the Fossil Park near Rockford. The race commemorates Tumilson; in fact, the name of the race was inspired by Chaplain Robert Bradshaw's words during his memorial service.
Tyler Dingel knew Tumilson personally, and has participated in every race since it began in 2013. H esays the race is a great way to remember Tumilson, as well as others who have sacrificed their lives.
"There's a lot of people that appreciate Jon and what he did, and veterans and what they've done. It bring out a great crowd. It's a great, challenging course, but it's nothing compared to what these guys sacrifice and go through every day. So it's fun for us to come out and do a little bit and honor them."
Even 8 years after his passing, Tumilson is still well respected in his hometown.
"He was an incredible person. If you met Jon and got to know him, he's the nicest, most down to earth guy. To know behind the scenes with the type of stuff that he went through to become a SEAL and to protect our country, and the battles he fought, and remain the person he was."
The race also raised money for the Retrieving Freedom foundation, which trains and places service dogs for wounded veterans and children with autism. This is the third year the race's organizers donated to the organization.