VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A soldier's desire to honor his mother's last request brought hope and a piece of home to hundreds serving overseas.
There's never been a race quite like this one for Susan G Komen Tidewater. The race started simultaneously in Virginia Beach and Kuwait.
"When the whistle went off, the sounds went off, we all went off together," said Susan G. Komen Tidewater Executive Director Sharon Laderberg.
It started with an email from Fort Eustis soldier Jonathan Eastteam, who wanted to honor his mom.
"My mother, Cheryl M. Eastteam, passed away. She never cried, passed blame, or got angry ... She fought that battle and then some," he wrote to WAVY.com. "Her last wish was for my family to tell her story, and to ask others to help out with the fight to end breast cancer."
Through his email, Eastteam contacted the Tidewater affiliate of Susan G Komen to support the Virginia Beach Race for the Cure from afar, but instead ended up turning Camp Arifjan, Kuwait pink.
Komen condoned his effort to bring the race to Kuwait and in support of the soldiers, shipped off 50 official t-shirts. It turns out they fell short by a few hundred.
"He emailed us on Monday right after our race and said that 400 people had shown up to race with him," Laderberg told WAVY.com. "It just gave us all goosebumps, it was great."
Great for morale, great for raising awareness and great for the soldier who calls his mother his hero.
"She taught me to never give up," Eastteam wrote. "While Mom isn't here to talk to me, help me, or see important events in my life, I know she is with me. This experience taught me that."
"We salute him and thank him for keeping the mission going forward and are hopeful one day we'll find the cures and won't need to race," Laderberg said.
Sgt. Eastteam had a pink ribbon tattooed to his arm along with the Serenity Prayer that his mother taught him.
He says he looks at it at least twice a day as a reminder to never give up.
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