Virtual 5-mile fundraiser for scholarship honoring fallen Navy Seal

Grace Merritt

2 min read

Looking for something to do to for Veteran’s Day? How about running in a virtual 5-mile fundraiser in honor of UConn alum Kyle Milliken, a fallen Navy Seal?

This year, the annual Kyle Milliken Memorial Run will be virtual and spread out over the week of Nov. 11–18. That means anyone can join from anywhere in the country or abroad and do the run over the course of the week.

“By going virtual, we hope that will help increase attendance from track and field alums across the country, and anyone who wants to join us,” said Sara Sykes ’02 (CLAS), one of the organizers.

The Kyle Milliken Memorial Fund provides scholarship and capital project support to the UConn men’s and women’s track and field program. The goal is to raise the final $20,000 needed to endow the scholarship honoring Milliken ’02 (CLAS), a track and field student-athlete who was killed in action in Somalia. A highly decorated combat veteran, Milliken went on 10 deployments and was killed in a battle with al-Shabab terrorists on May 5, 2017.

Milliken joined the UConn track and field team in 1998 as a walk-on. Greg Roy, director of UConn track and field, regarded him as a “glue guy” who made every one of his teammates better with his leadership, dedication, and unwavering commitment and drive.

“Kyle was a kid who wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Roy said. “He was widely respected by his teammates, many of whom were national-level competitors and All Americans. His work ethic was unparalleled. Athletes who failed the preseason fitness test were required to get a little extra work in at 6 a.m., and Kyle would show up even though he had passed the test with flying colors, explaining, he didn’t want anybody to get ahead of him.”

This will be the fourth annual Milliken Run, which is usually held in Storrs on the challenging Bone Mill route.

Among those participating this year are members of a newly formed UConn Track and Field Alumni Group led by Andrew Dubs ’09 (ED). The group organized this spring when University athletic programs faced potential budget cuts due to the impact of COVID-19 on UConn’s finances.

Worried about the future of the track and field program, Dubs quickly organized a Zoom call with 51 former teammates and managed to raise $27,000 in pledges in the first week to help sustain the program. The group has gone on to raise a total of $1.6 million in pledges.

Besides participating in the Milliken run, the new group plans to coordinate more annual alumni events and start a career networking program to help current student-athletes on the track and field team find jobs.

 

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