Champaign, Ill., (WCIA) — Hundreds of people came together across Central Illinois Saturday morning, running, walking and cheering each other on to honor loved ones they’ve lost. 

It’s part of Christie Clinic’s “Run to Remember” on U of I’s campus. Jan Seeley, the run’s director, said it started last year to recognize those lost on 9/11. This year, the goal expanded, aiming to honor anyone who has passed. 

Among the runners, was the “GEMS” organization. It’s a group of widowed women who regularly plan events and get together with each other. 

Sally Shores, one member of the group, ran in the 8K on Saturday. 

“When you’re with the crowd, and you feel the energy, it just gets you going,” she said. 

She said running regularly challenges her to stay fit, but enjoys socializing while running with friends she’s made in the group. This year, many ran to honor their late husbands, reflect on memories and cherish some of their favorite moments. 

Terri Lipscomb, another member of “GEMS,” cheered her friends on from the side. 

“We know that they were wanting to remember their own family and friends and they honored us by running for our family and friends,” Lipscomb said. 

And Seeley said for the 400 participants, that was the goal. She described the run as a peace run. 

“I just love the idea of pausing and honoring,” Seeley said. “For me, I’m running in memory of my husband, who passed away almost ten years ago. And I love that opportunity.”

Others ran for grandparents, siblings, extended family, or friends. 

Seeley said it also provided an opportunity for those to stay healthy and encouraged everyone to keep moving. 

“We want to use running as a bridge to community building and I think this event is a start in that direction,” she said. 

And Lipscomb said she’s thankful for that. 

“It’s an awesome thing to be a part of,” she said.