PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - This weekend marks the 16th annual Pats Run, honoring the life and legacy of Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State University football player, Pat Tillman.
After the September 11 terror attacks, Tillman decided to join the military. In 2004, Tillman's unit was ambushed, and he was killed in action.
Since his death, the Pat Tillman Foundation was established to honor Pat’s legacy and honor other soldiers, past and present through the Tillman Scholarship program.
One of those scholar recipients is Arizona native, Casaundra Wallace. "I'm from Arizona, I grew up in Mesa, I graduated from Dobson High School, and left for the army about three weeks after graduation," she said.
Wallace joined the Army at 17 years old and made her first deployment after the 9/11 terror attacks. "I deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003," she said.
After her first enlistment, Wallace decided to leave the military because she had her first child. Fast forward to 2008, and she decided to use her GI Bill. Wallace started her college courses by taking paralegal studies classes at Maricopa County Colleges. She eventually continued her bachelor's and her law degree at Arizona State University, where she attended the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
Wallace graduated in 2015 with her law degree. But, it was when she was in college, she knew she wanted to be a Tillman Scholar.
When she was chosen as a recipient, Wallace said it changed her life. “I think I probably did a little scream and did a little dance."
"It's a little bit more meaningful to me because my brother was killed in January of 2012,” Wallace said. “He was a big Pat Tillman fan, a big Arizona’s Cardinals’ fan, we actually buried him in his Tillman jersey. So it was a little bit more, knowing that I had done this and that, my brother would be proud of me because I did this and now my name is attached to the Pat Tillman foundation."
Wallace is now assistant general counsel at the Gila River Indian community.
Don’t forget to join the Official Pat’s Run Facebook Group. Here you’ll be able to share your experiences and pictures from this weekend’s virtual race.