Miles for Mills | Why Do You Run? | The Story of Two Firefighters

The Miles for Mills Memorial Day Weekend 5K is a moving and patriotic event that attracts folks from throughout the state of Maine, and even the country, all to support the recalibrated veterans served by the Travis Mills Foundation.

The event, which will feature awards, food trucks, military presentations, an after party and an opportunity to meet SSG (Ret.) Travis Mills, also encourages participants to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Along the race route are memorials recognizing each Maine individual, or those with Maine ties, who died while in service to our country in the Global War on Terrorism.

After last year’s race at Brunswick Landing, the first time in this location, photos circulated of two firefighters in full gear who stopped at each servicemember’s memorial sign to kneel and pay their respects.

Friends of TMF, Lizzy Snyder and Merry St. Pierre of 92 Moose, ran the race and first produced the photos of the two unknown firefighters.

Lizzy’s story >>>

The Firefighters

After some research, the two firefighters were identified as Charissa Kerr of the Windham and Raymond, Maine, fire departments and Capt. Mike Hughes of Raymond Fire Department. The two have competed in a number of events in full gear, including the Tunnels to Towers 5K, Run for the Fallen and stair climbs in Boston.

“People are fascinated by the physical challenge of competing in full gear,” said Capt. Hughes.

“Firefighting is a physically demanding job.  This is one way we maintain the fitness necessary to be successful.”

“For us, [Miles for Mills] is more of an event than a race,” Charissa added. “It’s a way for us to pay our respects to those who’ve gone before us and to honor the sacrifices they made.”

This year, both are hoping to recruit more firefighters from throughout the state to run with them.

Miles for Mills Registration >>>

Course Memorials

Capt. Hughes served in the U.S. Army for 24 years, first as an engineer, then drill sergeant and finally as an instructor at West Point.

Now woven into the fabric of Maine emergency services, he joined the Hebron Fire Department in 2009 after his military retirement, and says it’s important to take part in events that elevate the importance or our nation’s military and law enforcement.

“As I ran, I recognized quite a few of the names and faces on those signs,” he said. “It was kind of like catching a flight home and recognizing your people at the gate. It was very humbling.”

Charissa has run Miles for Mills several times and has had many favorite moments along the way.

“During last year’s race, I saw this little boy watching us,” she said. “It was like he couldn’t believe his eyes. He watched as I saluted the signs and then I saw him stop and salute a sign. I just started crying.”

Charissa observed a double amputee running the race, hand cyclists and people of all abilities.

“The entire event was really moving,” she added. “It brings life into perspective for me and reminds me to never take anything for granted.”

About the Travis Mills Foundation

The Travis Mills Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports post-911 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 combat veterans and first responders, the nation’s first of its kind program designed to cultivate and facilitate post-traumatic growth.  Learn more >>>