Annual Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count 5K Run/Walk

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The Annual Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count 5K Run/Walk Honors, Assists Veterans

The 6th Annual Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count 5K Run/Walk will be Saturday, Aug. 5 at the New Century AirCenter in Gardner. This event, which begins at 7:30 a.m., will start and finish just north of the U.S. Army Reserve hangar, 221 Gardner Dr.

Army Specialist Spencer C. Duncan, who was from Olathe, was one of 30 U.S. servicemen who died Aug. 6, 2011 when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. It remains the worst single-day loss of American life in the Afghan war.

This annual event always occurs on the first Saturday in August. Each serviceman who died in the crash will be honored on the Boulevard of the Brave along the course. In addition, photographs of each of them will be on display nearby in a Chinook. This will be the last year people will be able to walk through the old Delta model Chinook because they are being retired.

Spencer, who was 21 years old, was the son of Dale and Megan Duncan, Olathe. He was the oldest of their three sons.

Spencer was a 2008 graduate of Olathe South High School.

Shortly after Spencer’s death, his parents created the Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Foundation to honor and assist veterans. The annual run/walk is the not-for-profit foundation’s primary fundraising event. The number of people who participate has grown each year. The highest turnout for the event was last year, when 1,148 people registered.

The foundation has raised more than $300,000.

The funds have provided $500 book scholarships to more than 200 student veterans at Baker University, Baldwin City, Kan.; Johnson County Community College, Overland Park; the University of Kansas, Lawrence; and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

In addition, the funds have sponsored more than 30 participants through Warriors’ Ascent, a local experiential healing opportunity for veterans and first responders.

And, among other things, the funds have provided funding for 13 veterans to go through a veterans entrepreneurship program at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.

The words “make it count” were ones Dale Duncan regularly said to Spencer and his other two sons. Just before Dale said goodbye over the phone to Spencer for the last time, it was Spencer who said, “I know, Dad, ‘make it count.'”

Dale and Megan Duncan contend that Spencer did make it count and that he still does. One of the ways he does that is through the foundation. The Duncans are determined to help other veterans make it count too.

“We know we can’t solve all problems for all veterans,” said Megan Duncan. “What we can do is give someone hope. If we give one person hope, we can change that person’s life. If we change one life, we can change the world.”

The emcee for this event will be Joel Nichols of KSHB-TV 41.

Race day will include food and drink as well as prizes and awards. Military equipment will be on display.

Online registration is available at MakeItCountToday.org. The registration fee is $30 and includes a race T-shirt. Registration also will be available the day of the event starting at 6 a.m.

Admission is free for veterans, who are asked to register. Veterans can buy a T-shirt at the event for $10.

Anyone who is unable to actually run or walk at the race or who doesn’t want to do it has an option of being a virtual runner.

More information is available at MakeItCountToday.org.