Military families know tragedy can strike in a moment. If that moment comes, as it did for the Schoeller family in January 2016, there are organizations that step in to guide the family through those difficult days.

The first event of the Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, USMC, Memorial Fund invites the community to step up to a challenge while supporting those organizations at the inaugural Adam’s Semper fiT Challenge and Semper Fest 2017 to be held May 6 at the Carlisle Fairgrounds.

Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, formerly of Gardners and a 2008 graduate of Boiling Springs High School, was one of 12 Marines on board two CH-53E helicopters that went missing during a training mission in Hawaii. After six days, the Marines called off their search and changed the status of the soldiers, including Schoeller, to deceased.

Schoeller was stationed at Kaneohe Air Base in Hawaii and was a crew chief.

The Semper fiT Challenge includes a 5k race, a virtual 5k that can be completed anywhere in the world, and a 5k challenge that includes obstacles and physical challenges. “Pilot” awards will be given to the first-place finishers in each age bracket, and all registered runners will be entered in door prize drawings.

Online registration for the event is accepted through April 21 at schoellermemorialfund.org.

Ralph Schoeller, Adam’s father, talked about the event and the fund set up in memory of his son in this week’s five questions.

Q. Tell us about the Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, USMC, Memorial Fund Inc. and its vision.

A. Our nonprofit vision is simply to raise awareness and financial support for various other nonprofits who reach out to families, like ours, in times of loss or crisis. We also want to support those organizations who award scholarships to students pursuing a military-oriented education. Many of these outfits reached out to our family after we lost Adam. Their support was well-needed and well-received. Making the effort to help these organizations is actually helping the healing process for our family.

Q. How does the 5k Walk/Run and the 5k Challenge reflect Adam’s spirit?

A. Talking to some of Adam’s Marine Corps buddies, we learned that Adam did not enjoy running very much. However, he always enjoyed a good challenge. He was very competitive throughout high school and I know the Marines offer many challenges in many different flavors. The 5k challenge I think would represent Adam’s spirit of taking on a challenge, which sometimes means stepping out of your comfort zone. You just never know what you’ll learn about yourself.

Q. Adding a virtual 5k is a bit unusual for local events. What prompted you to add that option?

A. The virtual 5k was such a cool idea that one of our committee members came up with. Adam had such a positive impact on so many people, many of whom are scattered all over the world. The V5k gives those who can’t be in Carlisle on May 6 the chance to still participate in our event no matter where they are and to remember and honor Adam.

Q. According to the website, it looks like there will be a lot more than running going on. What else is planned for the event?

A. The day of the event, we plan on having various vendors on site for those who enjoy shopping outdoors. Food vendors will be on hand and there will be live entertainment from some local bands. A silent auction is planned with some pretty nice prizes. Many of the nonprofits that we will be supporting will also be on site to give these organizations some exposure. A running community dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of the American military, wear blue: run to remember will be conducting their monthly ceremony at the May 6 event. They normally do this at Army Heritage Education Center.

Q. If someone isn’t a runner or an active person, what can they do to support the fund and its mission?

A. You don’t have to be an athlete to register for one of the racing events. All age categories and athletic abilities are welcomed and encouraged to participate. But if this isn’t your thing, folks are still encouraged to come out even if they don’t spend a dime. It’s just a great time to get out with family and enjoy a fun day that includes free entertainment. Folks can also make donations directly to our nonprofit, by sending a check to our P.O. box, which can be found on our website (https://www.schoellermemorialfund.org). Sponsorship opportunities are always available. Donations for silent auction prizes are also welcomed.

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