NM - Kee Sandoval is a man with a mission.
The Shiprock resident began a run south
on U.S. 666 Monday morning that will take him down to Window Rock
and Ft. Defiance, Ariz., then back home by Friday. He is doing the
run to raise awareness to the problems of drunken driving.
This year, he is also running in memory
of the victims killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Kee's son, Lennie Roy Sandoval, was run
over by a hit-and-run drunk driver July 3, 1998. He was 27. This
is the fourth year of the Lennie R. Sandoval Memorial Run, which
always finishes on May 10, the anniversary of Lennie's birth. The
family has a birthday cake each year after the run.
"What happened to him (Lennie) still
goes on. I'm hoping to wake more people up," the elder Sandoval
Sandoval was a cross country runner during
the mid-1960s in high school at the Inter-Mountain Indian School
at Brigham City, Utah.
"I feel good, I'm ready to do it,"
he said Monday morning, as he warmed up on U.S. 666 south of the
Post Office before he run. His wife Judy, daughters Nina and Claudia,
son Chris and grandson Jacob were there with him, providing support
and driving safety vehicles behind him as he ran.
"This is to remember my son,"
"It's the only way to remember my
brother," Nina added. "By doing this run, he knows we
are thinking of him. He's in our prayers and in our thoughts."
Clauda added it's also to remember all
the victims of drunken drivers.
Sandoval wore a T-shirt as he ran with
the names of 53 victims printed on the back.
Earlier Sandoval had said "it's not
right to drive drunk. A lot of people get killed, especially on
the stretch toward Gallup.
Sandoval has invited anyone who wants
to run a portion of the memorial run to join in. The ex-Marine said
he would like to see some veterans join him.
Losing their oldest son was devastating
for Kee and Judy and their entire family.
The driver who killed Lennie was never
found. Lennie was hitchhiking near New Mexico 371 and Navajo Route
36 when he was hit.
"It was difficult," Kee said.
"I'm finally coming out of it. I still can't really talk about
it. I don't want what happened to happen to someone else. I want
to send a message to guys who drink and drive that you can hurt
or kill somebody."
"I'm going to keep on running,"
he added. "I'm against alcohol and what it does to people anybody
not just my people."