Fallen Heroes, Gold Star Families to be Honored with “Gold Mile” at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

INDIANAPOLIS  – The 500 Festival, a nonprofit organization providing life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500®, today announces the introduction of the Gold Mile at the 2018 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. This year’s race will take place on May 5 in downtown Indianapolis.

The Gold Mile is a new experience for OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon participants and it pays tribute to fallen service members and their surviving families (Gold Star Families). This motivational, mile-long segment of the Indy Mini course will feature patriotic décor and hundreds of volunteers lining Mile 6 at the backstretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, offering participants encouragement at the toughest peak of the course. Dressed in gold shirts, these individuals will hold American flags, pictures, banners, messages and sentimental items of their fallen heroes to recognize these brave men and women.

The Gold Mile provides OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon participants with the opportunity to honor and celebrate the lives of service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice and connect with the surviving family members of the fallen. The tribute will provide inspiration, motivation and support for participants and surviving family members.

“The Gold Mile at this year’s OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is a special way to incorporate the importance of the season into everything we do,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival. “Paying tribute to our Gold Star families is an integral part of the month of May. We honor our Gold Star families at the 500 Festival Memorial Service, presented by Rolls-Royce, and we’re excited to salute these fallen heroes and connect their families with the participants of one of the nation’s largest half marathons.”

The 500 Festival is working with Survivor Outreach Services, a program designed to provide support to families who have experienced the loss of a service member, as well as other veteran, military and family organizations to develop the Gold Mile and recruit volunteers to participate in this tribute. Gold Mile volunteers do not need to be affiliated with an organization or branch of the military to participate and all are encouraged to join in this experience.

“The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon continues to be extraordinary because of unique touch points like the Gold Mile,” said Scott Davison, OneAmerica chairman, president and CEO. “Some participants will use it as fuel; others may likely shed a tear at the thought of their own loved ones. It’s going to be an emotional segment, but that’s what makes this race so engaging, and the reason people continue to come back year after year.”

Often regarded as the most difficult stretch of the Indy Mini course, the backstretch at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has taken on many forms. In 2017, Meb’s Motivational Mile featured Meb Keflezighi, the most decorated American runner in the history of the sport. In previous years, numerous ideas have been used to motivate participants at the course’s midway point, but 2018 incorporates the largest number of individuals, and certainly the greatest meaning yet. Funding for this opportunity was made possible by an anonymous donor who prefers the focus be on Gold Star heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and their families.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the 500 Festival at the Gold Mile, please click here.

About the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is the 500 Festival’s largest fundraiser. Race registrations help support the 500 Festival’s free youth programs and events. Now through April 30, the 2018 Mini-Marathon registration fee is $89. Participants can register at IndyMini.com.

The course for the Mini-Marathon is flat and fast and appeals to runners and walkers alike. It begins near the intersection of Washington and West Streets in downtown Indianapolis, heads west toward the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and includes a lap around the famed 2.5 mile track before heading back downtown to the finish line at Military Park.

The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is sponsored by OneAmerica, Franciscan Health and Meijer. The Mini-Marathon will be broadcast to the Indianapolis market on WTHR, Channel 13. To register for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon, or to learn more, visit www.indymini.com or search #IndyMini on social media.

About the 500 Festival

Founded in 1957, the 500 Festival is a not-for-profit organization that produces life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500 and foster positive impact on the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana. One of the largest festivals in the nation, each year more than half a million people attend an event or program produced by the 500 Festival. Since its founding, the 500 Festival has contributed more than $400 million in economic value to Indianapolis. To learn more about the 500 Festival, please visit www.500festival.com or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

SOURCE: News release from 500 Festival