5K run will honor fallen National Guardsman - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

5K run will honor fallen National Guardsman

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

It's been a little more than a year since Lt. Ryan Rawl was killed in Afghanistan. Now his friends, family, and co-workers are rallying to make sure his name doesn't die with him.

Fourteen months of pain and loss have changed Diane Rawl and her family, but as she remembers learning of her son's death, she still can't believe it.

"When I let my mind go there, it's hard to believe he's not coming back," said Rawl.

Ryan served as a father of two, a Richland County Sheriff's Deputy, and a National Guardsman. It was a life dedicated -- and lost -- to service.

"Ryan died at an early age, but he died doing what he loved," said Rawl. "His life was complete as far as we're concerend. He's in heaven and we will see him again. This is not where it ends."

And this isn't where his name will end if good buddy David Adams has his way.

"Ryan gave so much to everybody else, and this gives us a chance to give back to him," said Adams.

Before his death, you could find Rawl walking the halls of Crayton Middle School as a Richland County School Resource Officer. He'd keep track of his students, sending them on up to A.C. Flora High. That's where the two became friends. Adams remembers the last conversation they had.

"He asked about my family I asked about his, we had that kind of relationship. He was always interested in someone else. You could ask him about him and he'd tell you about it, but he would always go back to taking an interest in somebody else."

Adams wants that selflessness to live on through the Ryan Rawl Freedom Run he helped organize and plan for this Saturday at Crayton. Money raised will go toward a scholarship in Rawl's name to The Citadel, his alma mater.

His mother thinks Ryan would appreciate the gesture. She's certain she does.

"Our greatest fear was that a year from the date he was killed, he'd be forgotten. He'd just be another one of those notches. But he hasn't been forgotten." said Rawl. "We appreciate that so much. We didn't want him to have died in vain."

The 5K run and walk starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

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