How a Homecoming Run became a Heroes Run

It started out as one of the many activities sponsored by Campbell University during Homecoming celebration, but on the second anniversary of the 5,000-meter Homecoming run, Cross Country Coach Ken Frenette decided it should have a new identity. “At first I thought the run was simply an enjoyable fundraising event tied to homecoming,” said Frenette, “but when I read the story of Campbell ROTC student 2nd Lt. Justin Smith, I decided the run should stand for something more.” Smith, who was an outstanding graduate of Campbell’s ROTC program in 2004, had pulled 100 combat patrols in Iraq when he was killed on Nov. 7, 2005, by an I.E.D. (Improvised Explosive Device) at an Iraqi checkpoint. He left behind a wife and two sons. “Justin probably didn’t have to be at that checkpoint,” remarked ROTC instructor Maj. Mike Collins in a story about Smith, “but if his troops were there, he would be there.” Smith’s story of courage and dedication to duty inspired Frenette to dedicate Campbell’s 5,000-meter Homecoming run to those like Smith who have given back to their community “Whether it’s a teacher, fireman or a soldier, I wanted the run to mean more to people than just a Homecoming event,” he said. Dedicated to Smith’s memory, Campbell’s second annual Heroes Run will be held Saturday, October 21, at 8 a.m. with registration starting at 6:30 a.m. The run will begin in front of the Athletic Department Office on the Campbell campus. Proceeds from the race will be used to benefit the community. For more information on how to register, go to or

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