More Than 10,000 Expected to Attend Pat Tillman Fundraiser in Arizona

The name Pat Tillman sure draws a crowd.

More than 10,000 people from all 50 states are expected to take part Saturday in the third annual Pat's Run, a fundraiser for the foundation named for the late pro football player-turned Army Ranger.

Military personnel in Afghanistan, where Tillman was killed by friendly fire on April 22, 2004, plan a run to coincide with the event, as will soldiers stationed in Guam, according to Alex Garwood, Tillman's brother-in-law and director of the Pat Tillman Foundation.

The turnout would be the largest yet in the event named for the former Arizona State and Arizona Cardinals football player, who turned down a lucrative NFL contract to join the Army Rangers after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Tillman's name remains in the news with investigations revealing the Army's deception in reporting the circumstances surrounding the soldier's death, but Garwood said the run is not about how his close friend's life ended.

"When you think of Pat Tillman, I want you to think about the incredible life that he lived," Garwood said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "The investigations and revelations, that's a part of it, but that's not his fault. The reason we have a run is because Pat lived. That's what I want you to know."

The run, or walk for those who prefer, begins Saturday morning on the 42-yard line at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, where Tillman was a star linebacker on the 1996 ASU Rose Bowl team and later was a hard-hitting, blunt-spoken safety for the Cardinals.

It's also the stadium were Tillman, an honor student, was known to climb a light tower because it was a good place to sit and think.

The run goes 4.2 miles, and there will be a .42-mile fun run free for children 12 and under.

Tillman wore the number 42 in college.

Those participating in the adult run pay $25 apiece, $30 if they are late entrants. The event also has corporate sponsors.

The first two editions of Pat's Run raised about $500,000, Garwood said.

The money funds the "Leadership Through Action" program at Arizona State's school of business. After meeting scholastic requirements, applicants are interviewed by a panel. Those selected attend a class at Arizona State that develops leadership skills, then requires the students to develop programs to benefit the community.

The Tillman Foundation pays for the class and provides seed money for the student's projects.

"What we're providing is the inspiration in Pat, people they can learn from, and the money to do it," Garwood said.

There were 12 Tillman scholars the first year, 19 this year, and 17 were selected from interviews this week for next year.

Garwood and Pat's Run spokeswoman Carolyn Pendergast offered two examples of projects completed by Tillman scholars.

A student from Niger developed a system for turning humidity into potable drinking water. Another staged a "Beyond the Barrio" basketball camp on Martin Luther King Day for primarily Hispanic youngsters in Mesa. Besides basketball, the event featured discussions about other cultural diversity and leadership.

The event was designed to "help kids cross cultural barriers," Pendergast said. "There were different speakers, so kids would gain an appreciation for the different cultures who make up the mix."

The process of selecting the scholars and watching them produce has been rewarding, Garwood said.

"It provides me a belief in the future," he said, "that there are these kinds of people who are going to make a difference."

A second Pat's Run is scheduled April 29 in San Jose, Calif., Tillman's hometown.

Tillman's college coach, Bruce Snyder, will be the starter for Saturday's run, sending off participants with the shout "Give 'em hell, Devils."