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12-year-old boy from Florida delivers memorial flag in honor of fallen Hartland Volunteer Fire member Judy Spencer

Zechariah Cartledge, the founder of the nonprofit "Running 4 Heroes" runs a mile for every fallen first responder and delivers a flag to their family.
12-year-old boy runs to honor fallen first responders
Posted at 10:41 AM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-29 18:13:24-04

HARTLAND, N.Y. (WKBW) — "Even though it seems like there's me and the four others running at the same time this evening, there are more running and that's all the fallen I have run for."

Thursday night, one of the fallen first responders 12-year-old Zechariah Cartledge ran for was Judy Spencer, a Fire Police member of the Hartland Volunteer Fire Company.

She died Tuesday after a fire rescue truck accidentally hit her while it was backing up at the scene of a brush fire on Quaker Road in Somerset.

This Sunday, Cartledge made the near 1,000 mile trip to hand-deliver a memorial flag to the Hartland Volunteer Fire Company and Spencer's family.

"The families ... they need support, they need help. There's not a lot of nonprofits that specifically help the families, because there's not a lot you can do - once their gone," said Cartledge.

So for the last two years, (since Zechariah was 10), Cartledge has made it his mission to honor the men and women who died in the line of duty - and to help those still with us to process and grieve.

For each fallen first responder (in the United States, U.S. territories, and Canada) - he runs a mile for them with a flag in hand. Then, he gifts that flag to their family - and the family with which they work.

Thursday night's run for Spencer marked 993 miles.

Before he left Florida he already had made it to 995 - a number he is saddened by. Its a number he doesn't want to see grow.

"It breaks my heart," he said.

He and his family started a nonprofit called Running 4 Heroes to raise money for first responders who were injured in the line of duty two years ago. He was inspired by those who risked their lives for his.

As he approaches the 1,000-mile mark, Cartledge has started a donation drive to raise $10,000 in order to start an Injured First Responders Grant. So far, the donation drive has raised about $5,500.

He also encourages any young adults like himself to reach out if they are interested in running themselves. Cartledge hopes to one day have a volunteer runner in each of the 50 states.