Fallen Heroes Memorial Garden to be dedicated at Flat Joe 5K Saturday

The Flat Joe 5K in memory of Walton County fallen hero Lt. Joseph Helton will take place on Saturday, May 18, 2019, beginning at the Walton County Veterans Memorial.

The Fallen Heroes Memorial garden will be dedicated Saturday as well. It will, however, be a low key ceremony according to Helton’s mother, Jiffy Helton Sarver.

“The dedication ceremony is not going to be a big Hoorah.  Joy Peters Boskoff will be singing the National Anthem, and the AFJROTC will present the colors,” Sarver said. “This moment is about our First Responders and Military, and the appreciation we all have for their daily sacrifices and their work that often presents a life and death situation.  We will take the time to offer a thank you to the Flat Joe 5k participants and our sponsors, especially our returning ones, as it is their personal sacrifice in the way of registration fees, donations, and their time, that have made the Fallen Heroes Memorial a successful tribute.”

Sarver said the Fallen Heroes Memorial was funded in large part by the Flat Joe 5k, as well as the Don’t Be A Weaksauce Golf Classic tournaments and the donations from The Fallen Heroes of Georgia and they are expecting a fairly large turnout for the run.

“There are some military who knew Joseph from the Academy who have come almost every year (a few have made them all). Like the defending Champion from last year, Eric Guzman, who went through the USAFA with Joseph. He wore the race in 2015 and 2018 and is returning in the hopes of taking the Race Champion title home once again. We have some new runners who have registered. We also have a busload (20 runners – plus a volunteer!) coming from Dobbins Air Force Base headed up by TSgt Daunte Saloy,” Sarver said. “Stop Soldier Suicide is coming down from Raleigh, it is currently run by Chris Ford, one of Joseph’s commanding officers from Iraq. Chris Ford started NAVSO when he retired from the Air Force, and in a very short time has made it a very successful organization that connects veteran-related non-profits with veterans and other organizations looking to assist the veteran community.  Several of those who served with Joseph have unfortunately been a victim of PTSD and have taken their own lives.”

Sarver said the Lt. Helton Memorial Foundation did a Fundraiser for Stop Soldier Suicide in Charlotte this year, raising more than $2,000.
“SSS will have a tent at the run and will be available to help share what the organization does and can do for our veterans,” she said. “The Shadow Warrior Foundation is returning at our request. In previous years, race profits have gone towards the work the Foundation has done in the Memorial Gardens and towards two scholarships we offer annually. This year, since the park is complete, we are sharing profits with the Shadow Warrior Foundation. This group goes out and tries to identify homeless veterans who have been separated from their families, often by an addiction that began as prescription drugs for treatment following their service.  The Shadow Warrior tries to help these homeless heroes find their way back home to their families and loved ones.”
Registration for the run is $33 online at RunSignUp.com , plus the RunSignUp website fees. Registration will be $38 at the race..  T-shirts are, however, limited in size and quantity at this point.
This year will be the sixth run, and the medals are a cut-out of the Flat Joe 5k in Gold, Silver and Bronze. Sarver explained the awards for the race and the significance of each.
 September will be the 10 year mark. The Challenge Coins have always had a “cute” factor, as Joseph always had a great sense of humor.  One side holds the Lt Helton Foundation’s logo, the other side is some form of the running “Flat Joe” logo wearing USAF shorts and sporting a number from one of the Marathons he participated in.   This year, however, in honor of those who served with Lt. Helton and our military in general, and because we hit 10 year mark, the coins have a much deeper meaning. The Flat Joe side holds a 3-d rendering of the face of the Fallen Heroes statue. Surrounding the face are the AFJROTC, USAFA, Security Badge, and Field Battle Cross insignias depicting Lt. Helton’s Air Force Career,  along with the squadrons he was attached to (6th SFS and 732nd SFS), and the units he served with in Iraq (Det 3 and Det 2).  The words which encircle that side are the core values of the Air Force which pretty much governed Lt. Helton even before entering the military. The bars on the side symbolize his 2LT rank.  The Other side has a 3-d rendering of the American Flag.  The word “Invictus” goes up the Flag Pole.  That was a poem by William Ernest Henley he always had up in his room, from high school, to the Air Force Academy (USAFA), to MacDill AFB, and ultimately in Iraq (we know that because he always left it at home, then asked us to send it to him when he was settled in). It is now inscribed on one side of the Pedestal holding the Fallen Heroes Memorial.   The words around the outside of the coin are “Lt. Helton Memorial Foundation” across the top, and our main mission “Honoring the Fallen and Those Who Serve” around the bottom.  The Foundation’s logo, a kneeling soldier with a rifle, is depressed, and cuts into the 3d image of the flag – which represents the empty space of our Fallen Heroes who are now missing from our lives.
Sponsors of this year’s Flat Joe 5K are:  John’s Supermarket, Kieth Glass, Dick Andersen, Breedlove & McElwaney Ins, Britt’s flooring, Edward Jones (Jim Brown), Liberty First Bank, Alfa Insurance (Mike Sorrells), Bruce Williamson, Patti Souther State Farm, Walton Dental Care (Larry Miller), Reliant Homes (Anna Burrell), Eric Guzman, Megan Archer, Cody Holland, and Chris Murphy, and Sarver’s  husband, David Sarver.  There are many others, and their names can be found on the Race Banner and the back of the Flat Joe 5k Race T-shirts.

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