SANTA ROSA, Fla. — A 7-year-old girl completed a 7-mile run in honor of her father and six of his fellow Marines who were killed in a Black Hawk training crash.
Makenzie Kemp and her mother, Jenna, were already participating in the Marine Raider Foundation’s 5-mile run in Pinehurst, North Carolina, over Memorial Day weekend, but at the last minute the girl asked to extend it an extra two miles — one mile for each Marine.
The little girl was only a year old in 2015 when Sgt. Kerry Michael Kemp was killed during a training mission in Santa Rosa Sound, Florida. He was one of seven Marines and four Army National Guard soldiers who died.
His wife Jenna Kemp was pregnant at the time.
“It was important for me, as these kids grew up, that they knew who their dad was and is,” said Kemp. “We try to do something special on Memorial Day. We’ll do different things, like we’ll go golfing or we’ll go to his favorite ice cream place.”
The family split up the miles, running four Sunday and three on Monday. Mackenzie never once complained during the run. She soaked in a bath Monday night, but her mother said she’s a true athlete who loves soccer and other physical challenges.
“I got really tired,” the little girl told The Pensacola News Journal this week.
The Kemps surpassed their desired fundraising goal for the Marine Raider Foundation, raising $3,570.
“Honestly for us, every day is Memorial Day,” Kemp said. “Every year we take time to talk about Kerry. We try to make him as much of a part of our lives as we can.”
“We were dealt some pretty crappy cards but we’re doing our best to make Kerry proud and keep his legacy going.”