Kendrick Castillo wasn't the type to boast about awards or honors, but his father believes the 18-year-old would have appreciated the Run for the Fallen event recognizing his son Sept. 15, he said.
“It means a lot to us because Kendrick was very patriotic,” John Castillo said. “I think him being honored with fallen military is so appropriate.”
During a 100-mile tribute, runners recognized fallen heroes from Colorado during each mile, including veterans, first responders and Kendrick, who was killed in the May 7 school shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch. The school's cross country team joined the runners for the mile dedicated to their classmate.
The run began Sept. 14 at Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs, and stopped in Castle Rock. It concluded a day later at Fort Logan National Cemetery, in southwest Denver.
Kendrick, who was set to graduate from STEM, was sitting in classroom when the shooting began. He charged one of the suspected shooters in an attempt to save other students and was fatally shot. Eight other students were injured in the attack.
On Sept. 15, before the runners rounded the corner on Ridgeline Boulevard on their way to STEM, the school's robotics team, which Kendrick once helped lead, rolled out their project from last year. It was a project that Kendrick helped design, engineer and build.
When John Castillo sees the robot, he gets emotional.
“He touched it and he made it come to life,” he said. “And I know that will never be again.”
Members of the robotics and cross country teams, parents, teachers and members of the community all gathered for the event.
Kendrick's parents, who received memorial flags from the runners, wore shirts identifying them as the teen's mom and dad. On the back, the shirts said “Most people go their entire life and never meet their hero. I raised mine!”
When the runners arrived at the mile marker for Kendrick outside of the place where he lost his life, they read his name and a quote from the Bible.
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend,” John 15:13.
As he received the small set of flags from the runners and watched as they saluted him and his wife, Maria, John Castillo thought about his son and how pleased he would be with the event, he said.
“I think he would have been blown away,” he said.
As the next court dates for the suspects approach and John Castillo begins lobbying for safer schools, he hopes the community will remain supportive, he said.
“Folks are not going to agree on issues of safety,” he said. “I just hope that they come together regardless of political sides.”
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