Travis Manion Foundation/Submitted

By Allison Brown

The Travis Manion Foundation hopes to bring the community together to celebrate the lives of America’s fallen during the first Joggin’ for Frogmen.

The event is set for 6:30 a.m. Saturday, June 4, at Bell Bank Park, 1 Legacy Drive, Mesa. Runners can participate virtually, too. All proceeds benefit the Travis Manion Foundation, which works to empower veterans and survivors, and inspires civilians to serve as the catalyst for character development in future generations.

Its flagship program is Character Does Matter.

“Character Does Matter was developed to address two alarming statistics,” says Ben Alexander, west region coordinator for the foundation.

“First, 60% of veterans feel disconnected from their communities. And second, one in three of nearly 16 million young people feel as though they’ve never had a positive mentor in their lives. So we train and empower the veterans and Gold Star Families or survivors to go out and connect with the community by teaching character and lessons learned through military service to future generations.”

The Travis Manion Foundation also hosts expeditions for families of the fallen, large-scale service projects, community service projects and several athletic events.

Joggin’ for Frogmen is a 5K race inspired by U.S. Navy Seals — Frogmen. All 5K finishers will receive a Joggin’ for Frogmen medal. The event also has an additional 1-mile “tadpole trot” for the little ones (6 and younger).

The event organizers have also teamed up with GORUCK to include a rucking category at the race, available in person or virtually. Rucking is a foundation of Special Operations training, and is just wearing a weighted pack. Participants who register for GORUCK will also receive a 5K medal in addition to a shirt and custom Joggin’ for Frogmen patch.

Alexander says there will be other fun stuff besides the race.

“We want to encourage the entire community to come out and come together to remember these folks,” he says. “We’ll have either a DJ or a live band, a vendor village where people can come and promote their businesses or nonprofits. We’ll have a family fun zone and food trucks. It’s a 5K and a fun run, but it’s really more of a celebration.”

The family fun zone will include bouncy houses. He adds that the race is accessible for anyone and is stroller friendly.

Joggin’ for Frogmen started in 2012 in San Diego in response to the deaths of U.S. military personnel.

“The premise behind it was to honor those lost in the Extortion 17 helicopter crash in Afghanistan that killed 30 servicemembers, a large group of which were Navy SEALs who were assigned to SEAL Team 6, which is obviously the infamous SEAL team that took out Osama bin Laden,” Alexander says.

Since then, it has grown to five locations throughout the country. This is the first time Joggin’ for Frogmen will be in Arizona, and Alexander says the foundation is trying to expand its footprint here. He is hoping for 500 to 1,000 participants.

“This brings awareness to the Travis Manion Foundation and what we do as a nonprofit organization,” Alexander says. “Aside from corporate sponsorships, we rely on these events for fundraising so that we can continue our mission not just here in Arizona, but across the country. And, again, we do it just to continue to honor our fallen service members. I think it’s just a good citizenship practice that we honor those who went off and died protecting our freedoms.”

Joggin’ for Frogmen

WHEN: 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. (registration and packet pickup), 8 a.m. 5K race kicks off Saturday, June 4

WHERE: Virtual or at Bell Bank Park, 1 Legacy Drive, Mesa

COST: $30 to $55