The 24-year-old Ashland, Ohio, native—who graduated with a BS in criminal justice in 2008—was killed in Iraq last summer. This summer, his cousin, Heather Moon, is organizing a Memorial Day 5K run/walk in the northeast Ohio town of Geneva in his honor. Xavier is one of the lead sponsors. Proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
Moon expects about 300 participants for the inaugural event, including Shaina Cales, a senior at Xavier and Runyan’s fiancée.
“We ran together all the time,” Cales says, recalling memories of the couple training together for races, including the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati in 2008. “It was a common thing we did together. I got to know Mike better by running. It’s a special place in my heart, the memory of it.”
Runyan and Cales became engaged in June 2010. Runyan died the following month, on July 21, in Diyala Province in Iraq when his vehicle was attacked by insurgents while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Runyan was an anti-tank Stryker Platoon leader.
Runyan and Cales met through the ROTC program at Xavier when Cales, a native of Ripley, Ohio, was a freshman. She graduates in May with a BA in marketing and is joining the Army’s Signal Corps.