Friends, military members, veterans and members of Florida State University’s campus community are set to gather Saturday, Feb. 26, on Langford Green, to participate in the ninth annual 2nd Lt. Justin Sisson 5K Run/Walk for the Fallen.
The event, which will begin at 8 a.m., gives veterans, active-duty service members, students and members of the university community the opportunity to raise scholarship funds and pay respects to the memory of a distinguished FSU graduate.
The event commemorates and celebrates the life and legacy of Sisson, an FSU Army Reserve Officer Training Corps alumnus, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in June 2013.
It is also a fundraiser for the Justin Sisson Outstanding Cadet Scholarship fund, which, as of 2022, has provided more than 30 scholarships to deserving FSU ROTC cadets and student veterans who embody Sisson’s courage, dedication and devotion to family and country.
“The event is an opportunity for our FSU cadets to understand the significance of what they’re signing up for, and the scholarship truly cements Justin’s legacy,” said Army Lt. Col. Travis Owen, professor of military science.
The race also provides an opportunity for alumni who graduated in Sisson’s class, soldiers who served in his unit, and Sisson’s family to come to campus to share stories and give guidance to cadets, and keep his memory alive, said cadet Evan Kwon, lead organizer for the event.
“They say someone is not truly gone as long as people keep saying their name,” said Kevin Sisson, Justin’s father. “This event brings all kinds of people together for a great cause, and we get to remember our son’s legacy and continue to say his name.”
Justin Sisson attended Florida State on an ROTC scholarship after turning down two separate appointments to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. During his freshman year at FSU, he joined the National Guard to get a better understanding of what the soldiers he would eventually lead needed in an officer. He then chose to deploy for a year to Mosul, Iraq, as a private, first class, between his sophomore and junior years at FSU to get field experience.
Upon returning to the university in 2010, Sisson completed his education and earned the George C. Marshall Award as the top cadet in FSU ROTC. Following his 2012 graduation, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned to the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Sisson deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 and was leading his platoon and providing security for Afghans when he was killed by a suicide bomber.
“Lt. Sisson’s legacy is directly tied to our battalion. He started many of the traditions and events we still host while he was a student at FSU,” Kwon said. “He accomplished so much in his career. It is humbling for us to know that he started his journey in the same halls, completing the same events and commissioning like we all hope to. He serves as a standard we all try to live up to.”
Participants may register via Eventbrite until the morning of the race, and all runners and walkers are invited to tag pictures and videos of their run with #RunForJustin.
A virtual option is also offered for those who wish to remember Sisson but cannot be in Tallahassee on race day.
Members of the FSU community who wish to support the scholarship directly may read more about Sisson and the Justin Sisson Outstanding Cadet Scholarship fund and make a gift using the FSU Foundation’s Spark platform.