KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Gold Star Mother made a stop in Knoxville Friday as part of her 1,000 mile running journey across America to honor her son.
Cathy Powers is honoring her son’s memory and saying “thank you” to all the men and women like him, serving our country.
Her son, Senior Airman Bryce Kenneth Powers passed away in 2013 while serving in Japan.
WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel talked with Cathy about her personal mission to pay tribute to all of our country’s fallen heroes.
Step by step, in state after state, this Gold Star Mother is making a difference.
“I am trying to raise awareness for our veterans to thank them and also I am trying personally to get 7,777 wreaths laid this year in Arlington National Cemetary,” Powers said.
That number is the exact number of days her son lived. He passed away exactly six years ago, injured in an accident overseas.
“Healing has been a marathon healing. The first few years I didn’t do so well… I went to a march where they ran for my son, and after a few years of watching them, I decided I wanted to be a participant instead of just a spectator,” Powers said.
Sporting his picture on her hat – it’s clear the imprint he’s made on her heart.
And Cathy’s journey leading her to Knoxville Friday. She spoke to and ran with the 134th wing of the McGhee Tyson Air National Guard.
“When we put on a uniform, we choose to serve, because it’s something we have a calling for. But when we have people in the community or throughout the country that throw their support behind us, it just gives us that extra motivation to do our job that much better to support them,” said Major Matthew Bailey.
Cathy is taking a step of faith and doing something bigger than herself, she says. It’s made an impact on her mind, but also her body – losing 140 pounds in the process.
“My son lost his life, I was wasting my life. And now I’m living and trying to help honor all of our veterans: Past, present and future,” she said.
With every mile, she’s spreading a message of perseverance.
“No matter what you’re going through, it doesn’t have to be a death, loss is loss. And we all experience it in life. Whether it be a dream, a job, just whatever it is. Don’t give up,” Powers said.
Tennessee marks Cathy Powers’ 12th state.
The next stops on her list include Indiana, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Since starting in January, she’s run 327.1 miles of her goal, 1,000 miles.