In July 2010, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove of Renton was killed in the line of duty from wounds suffered during a firefight in Logar province, Afghanistan. He was 25.
In the wake of this tragedy, Jarod’s wife and children found comfort and camaraderie in Wear Blue: Run to Remember.
For the past six years, Kimberly Newlove and her two children — Addison, 15, and Jordon, 12 — have participated in Wear Blue’s Gold Star program for people who have lost a military member of their family in the line of duty.
Wear Blue’s Gold Star Youth program connects children of the fallen to a mentor who is on active duty. Mentors and mentees train for several weeks for races and memorial runs to honor and remember their departed loved ones. The program culminates with the big Memorial Day Run.
This year, the Newlove family was given the opportunity through Wear Blue to visit the White House on Memorial Day. They arrived for a special Memorial Day breakfast where they were soon joined by President Joe Biden.
President Biden entered the room where the Newloves and other guests were waiting to meet him with apologies on his lips. He and his staff were running late and he had come to personally thank them for their patience.
When the time came for the Newloves to meet the president, they were taken to a separate room where President Biden and a photographer met them.
“It was surreal,” said Kimberly Newlove. “I never thought that that could happen.”
“We walked in there and I shook his hand, and we were just talking for a couple seconds,” said 15-year-old Addison Newlove. “He said I should not have a real relationship until I was 30,” she said with a laugh, which is apparently what he tells all his own grandchildren.
After breakfast, the Newloves visited Arlington National Cemetery for a Memorial Day ceremony with President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in attendance.
“I likely would have never met him under any normal circumstances, and the fact that we did meet him because we are a Gold Star Family is special,” said Newlove.
Kimberly Newlove’s mother, Mary Humphries, was on the phone with her daughter during the event, heard the announcement over the loud speakers, and was able to listen as the president entered the room.
“It just sends shivers down your spine,” said Humphries, who predicted the experience was “something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
Wear Blue: Run to Remember has chapters scattered across the U.S. in Washington, California, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee and several other states. There are also chapters outside the U.S. territories in Germany and Japan.
“The cornerstone to achieving Wear Blue’s mission is the Saturday Run, a weekly no-cost run or walk hosted by wear blue volunteers,” according to the Wear Blue website. “Our weekly runs through our neighborhoods highlight our mission, our commitment to one another, and our dedication to honoring the fallen. We become the living memorial. It is a place of connection, support, and healthy living for athletes of all abilities.”
Training takes place every Saturday at various locations throughout the region.
More information about Wear Blue: Run to Remember can be found at wearblueruntoremember.org.