This year, a local soldier plans to go the extra mile for his comrades. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield tells us why Brian Bales is Charleston's Hometown Hero.
"I'm gonna wake up, come out here in the morning, throw my gear on, and just gonna go," says Brian Bales is a runner by nature.
"It was right here where I basically got started. And, ever since that, I kind of adapted, and the military taught me to throw a little weight on my shoulders when I run," Bales.
But, now he's used to carrying a little extra weight on his shoulders.
"It's all about your battle buddies," says Bales.
Not to mention his legs and his arms, too for this run.
"It's in my heart, in my soul. Something that I have to do for people that have been in my life that no longer are," says Bales.
So, for them, he's going to run carrying 70-pounds of gear.
"I am just going to try to remember them and use that memory as fuel and just go, and just strive on," says Bales.
For six hours.
"I still know soldiers over there right now, and they are in 100-degree heat and they have to walk around in full armor and gear all day long, and it's only right that I do that too," says Bales.
For most people, the limit is four laps around this track. That mile honors one of Illinois' fallen soldiers.
"The first year, we did it, I took a card at random," says organizer Bill Leir.
In hand, a card with a picture of each one and his story.
"It happened to be a soldier from Arcola. And, I felt that when I was walking around the track that he was there with me," says Leir.
Here with Brian, will be his mom.
"I am really proud of him. He was a really strong soldier in his unit, and he's doing this to respect the soldiers that were lost. I know this means a lot to him," says Vivian Bales, Brian's mother.
"My goal is to come out here and give it everything I got," says Brian Bales.
Bales' mom will walk with him during his final lap. She actually organized the event while he spent two tours in Iraq.
The run goes Saturday August 18th from 7 am - 1 pm at the Charleston High School Track. This year, the Mattoon Junior ROTC Drill Team will perform at 8:30 am and the Charleston VFW Honor Guard will give a salute at 9:30 am.
If you know someone in the military who should be considered a Hometown Hero please nominate them with the form by clicking on this link.