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‘AMMO’ Airmen run with Gold Star mother to honor veterans

Gold Star Mother Cathy Powers with her “AMMO family” June 21, 2019, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Munitions Airmen assigned to the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings and the 649th Munitions Squadron ran a 5K with Cathy whose son, Senior Airman Bryce Powers, passed away April 26, 2013, after a vehicle accident in Japan. Cathy's goal is to run a total of 1,000 miles while visiting all 50 states to raise funds to sponsor veteran’s wreaths to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery in December. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Gold Star Mother Cathy Powers with her “AMMO family” June 21, 2019, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Munitions Airmen assigned to the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings and the 649th Munitions Squadron ran a 5K with Cathy whose son, Senior Airman Bryce Powers, passed away April 26, 2013, after a vehicle accident in Japan. Cathy's goal is to run a total of 1,000 miles while visiting all 50 states to raise funds to sponsor veteran’s wreaths to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery in December. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Gold Star Mother Cathy Powers speaks to munitions Airmen assigned to the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings and the 649th Munitions Squadron June 21, 2019, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Cathy's son, Bryce Powers, passed away April 26, 2013, after a vehicle accident in Japan. Bryce was assigned to a munitions unit at the time of the accident. He is now buried in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Gold Star Mother Cathy Powers speaks to munitions Airmen assigned to the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings and the 649th Munitions Squadron June 21, 2019, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Cathy's son, Bryce Powers, passed away April 26, 2013, after a vehicle accident in Japan. Bryce was assigned to a munitions unit at the time of the accident. He is now buried in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Flag stickers placed on top of state shapes indicate the locations Gold Star Mother Cathy Powers has run in raising funds for Wreaths Across America. Munitions Airmen assigned to the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings and the 649th Munitions Squadron joined Cathy during a 5K run June 21, 2019, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to honor her son Senior Airman Bryce Powers and other veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

Flag stickers placed on top of state shapes indicate the locations Gold Star Mother Cathy Powers has run in raising funds for Wreaths Across America. Munitions Airmen assigned to the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings and the 649th Munitions Squadron joined Cathy during a 5K run June 21, 2019, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to honor her son Senior Airman Bryce Powers and other veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Munitions Airmen assigned to the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings and the 649th Munitions Squadron joined Gold Star Mother Cathy Powers during a 5K run June 21 to honor her son Senior Airman Bryce Powers and other veterans.

Cathy set out Feb. 17 to run a total of 1,000 miles, with a portion in every state, to remember her son who died April 26, 2013, six months after a motor vehicle accident in Japan placed him in a coma.

Bryce was assigned to a munitions unit at the time of the accident. He is now buried in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery.

After her son’s death, Cathy struggled with grief and turned to food, overeating in an attempt to numb her pain. As a result, she gained weight, reaching nearly 300 lbs.

During one of her visits to Arlington she found a beautiful live balsam fir wreath on her son’s grave, along with thousands more covering each of the headstones at the cemetery.

It made an impact on her.

“One day I woke up and came to the realization that I am not being true to myself – I am still alive and he isn’t here. I realized I needed to live for Bryce and for me,” said Cathy. “When I run, I think of my son and all the things I need to be thankful for. I want everyone to know it is never too late to be the best you.”

Today, Cathy is 140 lbs. lighter, runs regularly and not only lives for herself, but for her son by raising funds to sponsor veterans’ wreaths to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery as part of Wreaths Across America.

The organization’s mission is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington and other veterans’ cemeteries.