Fallen United States Marine, Lance Corporal Jeremy Burris, will be remembered and his family will be honored at the 2022 Certified Piemontese Beef IRONMAN Tulsa Triathlon as part of the IRONMAN Foundation Gold Star Initiative.
Through the Gold Star initiative, athletes who have served in the United States military are selected to carry the American flag during the race portion of an IRONMAN 70.3 full-distance or half-distance IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon in honor of a deceased american military soldier. The family is then introduced to a Gold Star family (a family of an American soldier killed in action).
Staff Sergeant Chris Abner will compete in the IRONMAN Triathlon on Sunday, May 22, 2022, representing the IRONMAN Foundation Gold Star Initiative. Abner served in the United States Marine Corps from 2002 to 2016 as the Marine Corps Infantry Unit Leader.
He will carry the American flag during the running portion of the race in honor of his friend, Lance Corporal Jeremy Burris, who was killed Oct. 8, 2007, while conducting combat operations in Qaim, Iraq.
Abner was with Burris when he was killed. Burris was 22 at the time of his death. In addition to carrying the American flag in honor of Lance Corporal Burris, Abner will present the flag to Lance Corporal Burris’ parents at the finish line.
“This is such a special and meaningful program for us because not only are we supporting our racial communities, but we are playing a part in the healing process for those families who have lost a loved one while on active duty for our country,” said Audra Tassone-Indeck, Executive Director of the IRONMAN Foundation.
Staff Sergeant Chris Abner said, “I am very grateful for this opportunity to honor my dear friend, Lance Corporal Jeremy Burris, through the Gold Star Initiative program.
“This journey, through my training and my preparation for the race, has made a huge difference not only for me, but for everyone who has served with Jeremy.”
Lance Corporal Jeremy Burris’ decorations include a Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense and Global War on Terror Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and Deployment Medal naval service at sea.
While Staff Sergeant Abner’s decorations include a Purple Heart Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Medal of Honor (3) and Medal of Good Conduct (3), an Iraqi Campaign Medal with 4 stars, a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (4), a Presidential Unit Citation Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the United Nations Expeditionary Medal. global war on terrorism.
In addition to the Gold Star initiative, continuing its Race For Change initiative in Tulsa, the IRONMAN Foundation will distribute over US$50,000 in charitable donations to nonprofit initiatives and groups in the greater Tulsa area. This distribution includes $5,000 for swimming lessons at the YMCA of Greater Tulsa for area youth.
Last year, the IRONMAN Foundation’s Race For Change initiative began in Tulsa with a partnership with the YMCA of Greater Tulsa and the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs of Tulsa to remove barriers that could prevent black athletes and other diverse groups to participate in triathlons. This year’s grant brings the total historic impact of the IRONMAN Foundation in the greater Tulsa area to more than $115,000.
The Race For Change campaign launched in 2020 with an initial commitment of US$1 million to support programs that will help ensure fairness for athletes in the sport of triathlon and in communities where IRONMAN athletes and new hopes live, train and race.