A History of the MCL/TEL Semper Fi 5K Charity Run for Children – 12 Nov 2022
“A 37-year tradition of giving to the Children of the Greater Pensacola Area”
“A 38-year tradition of giving to charity in the greater Pensacola area” November 12, 2022, marks the 38th year for the MCL/TEL Semper Fi 5k Charity Run. The origin of the run was as a fundraiser for the children and families of the Marines and Sailors who had perished in the Marine Barracks Beirut, Lebanon terrorist bombing attack on October 23, 1983. Marine 1stLt Chris Holzworth, having recently reported to the Marine Air Training and Support Group-21 (MATSG-21), Naval Air Station Pensacola, for flight training, presented the idea for the charity run to the Commanding Officer, Colonel Robert “Bull” Bland, USMC. MATSG-21 adopted the idea and became the first sponsor of the event, initially named The Beirut Relief 10K Run. Colonel Bland assigned 1st Lt Chris Holzworth, who had initiated the idea, as the first Race Director. NAS Pensacola hosted the first run on Armed Forces Day in May 1984 with Brigadier General Joseph Hoar, USMC representing Headquarters Marine Corps, and receiving the proceeds of the race. Over 500 military and civilian runners participated in that first event which contributed over $4,000 for a Marine Corps Scholarship Fund established for the children of the families who had lost loved ones in the Beirut attack. The race continued for several years to be sponsored and executed by MATSG-21 with all proceeds going to the scholarship fund. Eventually, the command shifted the race proceeds to Non-Profit Childrens Organizations of the Greater Pensacola area in keeping with “the tradition of giving to the children”. In 2014, because the military was heavily engaged in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), leadership for the race changed to the Marine Corps League (MCL), Cpl J. R. Spears Detachment 066. At the same time, TEL Staffing & HR (TEL) of Pensacola joined in partnership with the MCL to provide the leadership, resources, and the major funding for the race. Hosted by Seville Quarter and executed by Running Wild, the race route takes you from Seville Quarter through the Downtown District of Pensacola, winds around Veterans Memorial Park, and ends back at Seville Quarter. The event is always dedicated to a distinguished veteran who has served our Nation. This year’s race honors Lance Corporal Lenny Collins, USMC, and his wife Gloria, who were the driving force behind the construction of Pensacola’s Vietnam Wall replica, named Wall South. This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of this iconic, healing wall contained within the beautiful Veterans Memorial Park. Going into the 38th year of the Semper Fi 5K run’s legacy, the event has raised over $660,000 for local charities. This year’s recipients are Santa Rosa Kids’ House, Vision of Hope, Be The Miracle, and MCL/Heroes Among Us Fund. For the first time, a portion of the proceeds will be allocated to the MCL/Heroes Among Us Fund, which exists to provide financial assistance to honorably discharged veterans in times of need. Every year Pensacola community Semper Fi 5K runners are joined by many local active-duty military units, such as MATSG-21/23, several Naval Aviation training squadrons, and local high school JROTC units who run the event in formation. Come join in the fun and hang out with the Marine Corps League Pensacola. The camaraderie is second to none, first-place awards are unique, and the after-race party has plenty of good food and drink.