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I've not gone on one run since June 14 that I haven't thought about Sarah Roberts Hart.
On June 14, she was on her morning jog in Russell County when she was attacked and killed. Her tragic story has struck a nerve with people all over the country, especially with fellow runners like myself.
Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting Sarah, but her beautiful smile and bright eyes are forever ingrained into my memory. I first saw her photo on the morning she went missing. I remember looking at the photo of Sarah that police were sharing with the media in hopes of locating her. The photo was of Sarah, her husband and her three beautiful children. It was a perfect family portrait. And my heart just sank looking at it. Like many others, I had a gut feeling that something was very wrong.
According to police reports, Sarah and her sister, Elizabeth, were enjoying a run on North 127 in Jamestown that morning when Sarah told her sister she didn't feel well and couldn't finish the run. She urged her sister to go ahead and finish the run, and she turned back to go to her vehicle. When Elizabeth finished her run and returned to her vehicle, Sarah's car was still there but Sarah wasn't.
By early afternoon, police had found Sarah's body in a wooded area near where she had been running. She had been strangled to death. That evening, police arrested her alleged killer, Christopher W. Allman, and charged him with murder, robbery, kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence. However, this senseless tragedy became even more heartbreaking when police reported Sarah's autopsy results, which showed she was pregnant. As a result, Allman has also been charged with fetal homicide and persistent felony offender.
It's hard for me to wrap my mind around a story like this. My heart literally aches for her parents, her loving husband and her beautiful children. I can't even begin to imagine what they have been going through since this tragedy occurred. I also can't imagine the type of pain her sister - her early morning running companion - has been going through since she last saw Sarah alive.
But, instead of focusing on the sadness of this tragedy, I'm going to follow her family's lead and focus on honoring Hart's life. In fact, I signed up a few weeks ago to run in the "Run with all your Hart" 4-mile run/walk, which is a race being organized to celebrate the life of Sarah Roberts Hart. And I have been so inspired and amazed at the response that this event has received from not only the state of Kentucky, but all around the world.
So far, more than 800 runners/walkers have registered, including 166 virtual runners/walkers from 50 states and six countries! People who can't make it to Russell County for the race are signing up as what organizers call "virtual runners." They'll run in their hometown on the same day, at the same time and go the same distance. Organizers hope to have some of the out-of-town runners even check-in virtually with web cams on race day.
How awesome is that?
But, it gets better!
So far, more than $20,000 has been raised for the Sarah Roberts Hart Fund, which was established in honor of Hart's life and dedication to her family, faith, education and her profession as a pharmacist. The fund will provide scholarships for area students pursuing careers in the fields of pharmacy and/or medicine.
I can only imagine how truly touched Sarah Hart would be to see this outpouring of support from complete strangers all over the world. To me, it's further proof that runners are some of the most awesome people on earth, and Sarah Hart was definitely one of them.
I urge anyone who can to sign up to participate in this race. It's going to be an amazing event. I truly can't wait to be a part of it, and to help celebrate the life of Sarah Hart.
If you are interested in participating, the race is set for 8:30 a.m. (central time), Saturday, Aug. 11, in Russell Springs. You can learn more by visiting the race Web site, http://www.runwithallyourhart.com.
To make donations directly to the fund, address your check payable to the Sarah Roberts Hart Fund, P.O. Box 1036, Jamestown, KY 42629.
About Sarah Roberts Hart
Dr. Sarah Brooke Hart was born Dec. 1, 1980 in Somerset, and grew up in Jamestown. She was the daughter of Wendell and Cindy Roberts, and she had one sister, Elizabeth.
She was a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, and she married her long-time boyfriend, Ryan Hart, in 2003. They had three wonderful children, Avery, Addison and Archer.
Hart was a pharmacist at Mt. Vernon Drug in Mt. Vernon. She was also a long-time member of Freedom Christian Church where her father was pastor. She was an avid landscaper, a talented photographer, and enjoyed cooking and scrapbooking. She was a successful hunter and fisherman, a hobby she enjoyed with her husband. Sarah was also a runner who enjoyed early-morning jogs with her sister.