Almost 500 Runners in Uptown Columbus for MSG Jared Van Aalst Ru - WRBL

Almost 500 Runners in Uptown Columbus for MSG Jared Van Aalst Run

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Almost 500 runners laced up their sneakers in Columbus Saturday morning to honor a fallen soldier with a 5K and 10K run, but they were also helping to raise money for college bound kids. Katie Van Aalst set up the run 3 years ago in memory of her late husband Master Sergeant General Jared Van Aalst. Katie said he was so close to finishing his degree when he passed away, she wanted other students to have the opportunity to get their college degrees and fulfill their dreams.

"So to run a race you need focus, you need endurance, and you need selfless service. All of those things reflect Jared's life."

Runners and onlookers in Uptown Columbus Saturday morning remembered the life of the late Jared Van Aalst. The former army ranger gave the ultimate sacrifice on August 4th 2010 when he was killed in the line of duty. He was just 2 months shy of getting his college degree from Troy University.

As runners crossed the finish line Saturday morning, they not only got their exercise, they were also able to help fund college scholarships.

"Education was very important to Jared and I wanted to honor him in this way and give it to students that really needed it so they can excel just like him because he was very dedicated to education," said Katie Van Aalst.

Over the past 3 years the run has raised more than $22,000 in college scholarships for 17 students. This year, Andy Derojas, a freshman at Georgia Southern University, received $3,500 from the MSG Jared Van Aalst Foundation.

"It's a big honor especially for a scholarship that's in memory of a fallen brother who fought for our country that's just a big honor for me," said Andy Derojas.

Katie said this year's race raised about $10,000 and they should be able to provide 3-5 scholarships to students next year.

"I'm glad that I'm doing this and I think that he would be proud. It's a lot of work but I think he would be proud that we're doing this for him," said Katie Van Aalst.

Jared is survived by two daughters Ava and Kaylie, a son, Hugh Jared, and his wife Katie. He was awarded an honorary degree from Troy University.

You can visit www.jvafoundation.org to find out more about applying for the scholarships and the foundation.

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