wear blue: run to remember is the collective effort of an all-volunteer staff. Meet the team:
Executive Director & Co-Founder
Lisa Hallett is the President and Co-Founder of wear blue: run to remember. On August 25, 2009, Lisa’s husband, CPT John Hallett, was killed when his Stryker was attacked with an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan. Surviving the loss of her husband, best friend, and father of her three young children, Lisa turned to running. An avid runner, she soon found a community that needed the same kind of support that running gave her. Creating wear blue gave Lisa a healthy outlet for her grief and a path to move forward, and she’s committed to sharing that with others. Lisa has an M.Ed.T. from University of Hawaii and a B.A. in English Literature from University of California- Santa Barbara. She completed her fifth ultra-marathon in December 2013, and has set a full marathon PR of 3:37:52. Lisa has completed three Ironman races, with her most recent the Ironman World Championships. Lisa and her three young children reside in DuPont, WA. They are moving forward and loving life, honoring John with every step.
Erin O’Connor is the co-founder of wear blue: run to remember. An Army brat, Army spouse, and runner, creating wear blue was personal and natural. Sharing her belief in running as a coping mechanism, she loves seeing wear blue grow and provide a support network to so many. She holds an M.P.A. from Western Kentucky University and a B.A. in political science and communications from Virginia Tech. A lifelong runner, Erin ran her first marathon in Rome, Italy while her husband, a career Army Infantry officer, was deployed to Iraq for the first time. Many moves and deployments later, she has since completed seven marathons with a PR of 3:54. Currently stationed in Hawaii, Erin and her husband are raising their four children while continuing their Army adventure.
Director of Operations
Stacy is a native of Massachusetts. She graduated from Boston University with a BA in Sociology. She earned her MBA from Auburn University and graduated at the top of her class. She is a committed and organized leader and has a variety of professional experiences to include leading and advising non-profit organizations, managing budgets and financial statements, planning large events, and fundraising. Stacy was a sprinter in high school and college. She has continued running as a way to stay fit and cope with the stress of Army life. She ran her first half-marathon at Rock'n'Roll Seattle in 2014 as a member of the wear blue running community. Currently stationed in Tampa, FL, Stacy lives with her Army husband of almost 22-years and her two teenage boys; all of whom run for the fallen, for the fighting, and for the families.
Director of Chapter Development
Beth Stitt graduated from Norwich University Military college of Vermont with a B.S. degree in Recreation. She is presently an Army spouse of 21 years and a mother to two teenage daughters. A college athlete, an avid recreational runner and triathlete who has competed in 1 70.3 triathlon, 2 marathons, 7 half marathons, and multiple sprint triathlons. She came to wear blue through the Washington Post article and so closely identified with the mission of wear blue. Having seen first hand the devastating effects through the years of the GWOT, it felt like the perfect match for her as a runner and an Army spouse.
Director of Community meet-ups
Brandi Morgan graduated with a BSBA from Auburn University with concentration in Human Resource Management. She also holds a Masters in Teaching from City University of Seattle. During her husband’s deployment several years ago, Brandi joined a group of fellow runners (now known as wear blue: run to remember) to run, heal, and support each another through that difficult deployment. She knew that although her words may not communicate her profound appreciation and respect for the sacrifices of our fallen, fighting, and their families, her actions through running with wear blue could demonstrate her support. With three half marathons completed, Brandi continues to run, having completed her first marathon at the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon. Currently stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, Brandi lives with her husband Josh, daughter Caroline, and is a 6th grade Communication Arts teacher.
Director of Marketing
Erin graduated from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri with a B.S. in Human Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Child Life and Family Lifespan Development. Following her graduation from Mizzou, Erin accepted an account coordinator role in Tulsa, Oklahoma with the National Rifle Association’s advertising agency, working on their digital competencies including digital networks, digital magazines, event marketing/promotion and social media entities. Even though she did not grow up in a military family, it did not take long for Erin to completely engulf herself in this patriotic and selfless community, with it quickly becoming her passion. Following her experience with the NRA, Erin served as the account executive for the Folds of Honor Foundation in Owasso, Oklahoma where she worked on everything from their website to video testimonials, script writing, marketing materials, event planning/marketing, and more. It was in this role that Erin was introduced to wear blue and promised herself she’d complete a marathon not knowing that the community would hold her to that promise. Erin completed this marathon at the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon and will run it again in 2015. She currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri working at a St. Louis based marketing agency.
Director of Merchandise
Laura graduated from Frostburg State University with a B.S. degree in Business Management where she was on the Track & Field team. After returning to running in 2011, Laura discovered wear blue‘s website while searching for a way to honor LCpl Patrick R. Adle who was Killed in Action 29 June 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Experiencing the pain of losing someone during the War on Terror, having a husband who is an Operation Iraqi Freedom combat veteran and a father who served over 30 years in the Army National Guard, wear blue‘s mission immediately resonated with Laura. She received a bib through the wear blue Marine Corps Marathon lottery in 2013 and completed her first full marathon with a time of 4:27. During this race Laura was able to honor Patrick’s sacrifice with a poster on the wear blue Mile. She is passionate about wear blue and its ability to bring many demographics together to serve the mission of honoring the service and sacrifice of the American military. Laura lives in Harford County, Maryland with her husband and son.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord Chapter Co-President
Curtis Brake has been affiliated with the military since he was born. A proud son of a career Army officer, Curtis was born in Ft. McPherson, GA, stationed throughout the United States and Germany and ended up in Washington State after his father’s retirement at Fort Lewis. From there, he earned his MBA at Washington State University in 1994, worked in the Bay Area of California for several years, and moved to DuPont in 2004. A relatively new runner, Curtis was thankfully introduced to wear blue: run to remember by a neighbor in August 2011. He’s very proud to have completed his first ever official race (Anything is Possible 2011), half-marathon (Seattle Amica 2011) and full marathon (Marine Corps Marathon 2012) with wear blue. Given his strong support of the military, and his passion for running, Curtis is very honored to be a part of wear blue and its very important mission.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord Chapter Co-President
Rachel Elizalde-Powell made a promise to her brother, SFC Adrian Elizalde, prior to his deployment to Iraq in 2007, that they would run a half marathon together. On August 23, 2007, Rachel’s brother and only sibling was killed when his vehicle was struck by an IED. Despite not being a runner, Rachel followed through with her promise and completed the Seattle Half Marathon in 2009. After seeing the wear blue Mile at the 2011 Seattle Rock n’ Roll Marathon, she began running with wear blue: run to remember. Running gave her a healthy way to feel Adrian’s presence. She has run multiple half marathons and 5 full marathons. Rachel works as a full-time clinical educator with medical devices and is currently earning her Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management. Rachel’s drive, commitment and passion for the military has made her a natural leader in the wear blue: run to remember community.
Brandy Benitt, Springfield
VA/DC Chapter Co-President
Brandy Benitt enlisted in the Ohio Army National Guard in 1998 prior to graduating high school. After completion of basic training, she attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and graduated in 2007 with a B.A. in History, minor in Psychology. She deployed to Afghanistan a few months after graduation in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2008, she took an AGR position in Washington, DC at the National Guard Bureau. Brandy earned an M.S. in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, concentration in Sports Psychology from California University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Upon seeing a co-worker’s wear blue shirt, she decided to do some research online only to find a chapter was being launched in the VA/DC area and jumped at the chance to become involved with an organization who’s mission she fully believes. A late bloomer as a runner, she has completed 7 marathons, 20+ half marathons, and 5 Army Ten-Milers. She has also completed the Goofy Challenge (2012 and 2013) and recently completed the Dopey Challenge (2014) which totals 48.6 miles over 4 days. Brandy and her husband, Matt, are both combat veterans, rabid fans of Cleveland sports and the Ohio State Buckeyes, and reside in Woodbridge, VA with their fur kids, Mac and Zeke.
Matt Metzel, Springfield
VA/DC Chapter Co-President
Matt learned about wear blue and its mission while stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. The friends and family members of our fallen heroes made a lasting impact on him and inspired his involvement in supporting those left behind. Matt is a Strategist with the U.S. Army Reserve at Fort Belvoir, VA. He holds a BA in Criminal Justice from University of North Florida, MA of Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix and two Masters of Military Arts and Science degrees in Military History and Theater Operations. Matt’s interests center on his faith in God, love for his family, and appreciation for our fallen heroes. He and his wife Stephanie have three children – four if you count their Pekinese who loves to run with the wear blue teammates.
Fort Bragg Chapter Co-President
Dave Leach enlisted in the Army in 1986 and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. After being awarded a Green to Gold ROTC Scholarship and commission as an Aviation Officer, he served in a variety of aviation assignments at Fort Bragg, Turkey, Iraq, Germany, and Belgium. Dave earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Methodist University and a Master’s Degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma. An ardent runner, Dave has completed 9 marathons, 2 half marathons, the Army Ten Miler, the Ironman (UK) in Sherborne, England, the Ironman 70.3 in Rapperswil, Switzerland, a half iron distance race in Lisbon, Portugal, and the JFK 50 Miler. Dave, his wife, and three children are all runners and support the wear blue mission.
Fort Bragg Chapter Co-President
Ashley has a strong connection to the military. She grew up in a military home, her brother and sister both enlisted in the army, and her husband has been in the army for 12 years. She learned about wear blue during her husband’s 3rd deployment. After making lasting friendships she felt inspired to volunteer and has been active in the wear blue community ever since then. Ashley worked as a Medical Assistant at the Allenmore Hospital until her last child was born and she decided to stay home with her kids. In addition to completing many 10k and 15k runs, Ashley ran her first half marathon in June 2013. Since then she has ran 6 half marathons and 2 full marathons. Not only does Ashley love to run for wear blue, she also loves to volunteer on wear blue Miles. Ashley currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and 3 kids
Director of Running & Training
Rita White is one of the most experienced runners on the wear blue team. Rita has run ten ultra-marathons and 23 marathons. She is RRCA trained as a running coach. A few of Rita’s major races include the Redmond Watershed 12 hour run, in which she placed 2nd female and 7th overall with 54 miles, and the Tacoma City Marathon, in which she ran her best marathon time of 4:15. Rita started running just over 10 years ago, and all but 1 marathon was in the last couple years. wear blue: run to remember kick started her running and she completed her first 100 miler in November 2014.
Kandi Newkirk attended The Ohio State University and holds a B.A. degree in Business Administration. Kandi began running after the birth of her only child in 2009. The personal challenges were exciting, but it was running through the wear blue Mile during her first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon in 2012, that changed her perspective completely. Kandi’s father served in Vietnam with the US Marine Corps. wear blue’s mission to honor the service and sacrifice of the American military resonated with her patriotic spirit, especially since little honor was shown when her father returned home after the Vietnam War. Kandi now finds purpose and passion in her steps as she honors several soldiers, one being her father’s friend, PFC Charles Wetzel, who was Killed in Action in Vietnam in 1966. Her passion can be seen through her delivery of the mission at each Expo. Kandi lives in Western North Carolina. She has completed 16 half marathons and is currently training for her 4th Marine Corps Marathon.
Gold Star Race Program Director & Regional meet-up Coordinator
Chris Bryant is Director of wear blue: run to remember’s Gold Star Race Program and the regional coordinator for Maryland’s six wear blue meet-ups. Chris comes from a family with a strong military tradition and has profound and abiding respect for and admiration of the American military. He is an avid military historian and student of our nation’s wars. Chris participates in dozens of races a year and has completed the Marine Corps Marathon nine times, gaining entry into the MCM Runners Club. He finds solace, joy and adventure in running and does his best to share those qualities with his fellow wear blue runners. On any given Saturday Chris can be found running at one of Maryland’s six wear blue meet-ups and honoring the fallen. Chris has a degree from the University of Maryland and works for an environmental law firm in Washington, DC. He has three children and lives in Howard County, Maryland.
Chief Photographer and Visual Coordinator
Ingrid Barrentine has been making images for wear blue: run to remember since she worked as a photojournalist at the Northwest Guardian: the installation newspaper on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Ingrid came to the newspaper in 2009 with no military experience, so the first weeks were a crash course in rank, unit structure, and military propriety. Two weeks into the job, the first casualty notifications from the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division began to arrive at her desk. That year, Ingrid documented numerous memorial services and monument dedications, beginning to connect with many of the members of the initial wear blue community. In 2011, Ingrid started her own commercial photography business and has been volunteering with wear blue: run to remember ever since. Ingrid received her BA from the University of Washington Tacoma. Her commercial clients include Alaska Airlines, MultiCare Health Systems, and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.