Why I Run: Kristen and Deborah’s Story

One of the Travis Mills Foundation team’s favorite aspects of the Miles for Mills Memorial Day 5K is the stories of runners, walkers and handcyclists about why they run this particular race.

For many, its personal.

Kristen’s Story

North Yarmouth resident Kristen Olsen runs Miles for Mills for a much greater purpose.

“I lost my friend, Army SGT Nick Robertson (pictured above), back in 2008 in Afghanistan,” Kristen said. “It is something I do to remember him. I do a lot of races to remember him, and that is another driving force behind doing this race.”

Throughout the Miles for Mills course, there are memorials placed to remember the fallen and missing in action.

“It was emotional,” she said. “Almost one of those things that makes the hair stand up on your arms. I felt like I was remembering and honoring a lot of people. It is a good feeling and something we should all be doing.”

The course route is lined with more than 80 signs remembering the Maine servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice in their post-911 service.

In addition to running for her late friend, Kristen comes from a family of firefighters. Her grandfather served in the U.S. Navy and her father-in-law was a U.S. Marine during the Korean War. She feels extremely connected within the military community.

“I did not [serve] but I was on the fire [team] so I know a lot of ex-military or Air Force, but mostly the leading drive behind [running Miles for Mills] is my friend Nick. Keeping him alive in a sense by doing this.”

Deborah’s Story

Palermo, ME, resident Deborah Lord is participating in Miles for Mills for the first time this year.

“I was in an auto accident in June 2020 and it has limited what I can do physically,” Deborah said. “I used to be a runner and compete in different types of races. It was inspiring when I saw it pop up this year and decided I wasn’t going to let my accident prohibit me from doing the things I wanted to do anymore.”

SSG (Ret.) Travis Mills’ story and his motor of “Never Give Up. Never Quit,” has inspired many runners and individuals like Deborah. Despite her physical limitations, she has decided that she was going to support a larger cause by running Miles for Mills and also rehabbing herself.

“If a man who is a quadruple amputee can run a race, how do I have any excuses not to?” she asked?

Deborah is also inspired by her 13-year-old son who will run the race with her. “I guess it is my version of no man left behind.” Deborah has several friends who are combat veterans who she will be thinking of when she runs the race on Sunday.

“For me, signing up and running is just one way to support them.”

Sign up to participate in Miles for Mills!

The 12th annual Miles for Mills Memorial Day 5K, presented by New Balance Foundation, will be held Sunday, May 28 at Brunswick Landing, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. The race will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 11 a.m. Registration is $35.

About the Travis Mills Foundation

The Travis Mills Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports post 9/11 veterans who experienced life changing injuries while in service to our country. The Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat offers our nation’s recalibrated veterans and their families a week-long, barrier free, all expenses-paid experience at its world-class retreat in the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine. It offers various programs that help these brave men and women overcome physical and emotional obstacles, strengthen their families, and provide well-deserved rest and relaxation. The Foundation also offers the Warrior PATHH Program (Progressive & Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) for post-911 combat veterans and first responders, the nation’s first of its kind program designed to cultivate and facilitate Post-Traumatic Growth. Learn more >>>