BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — Many people remember a young Maryland man who died earlier this year while serving his country. His father was also present as many came out to remember his sacrifice.

This is the inaugural event for the Baltimore 9/11 Heroes Run. The focus was on service members who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Runners at the Inner Harbor pushed toward the finish line in a race that to honor fallen heroes, including Petty Officer 1st Class Xavier Martin from Halethorpe, who died in June.

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The Navy destroyer he was on collided with another ship off the coast of Japan. Six other service members also died in that incident.

“I still have over a thousand texts in my phone. I miss him. I miss him a lot,” says Xavier’s father Darrold Martin, now a Gold Star parent.

He said his son would have turned 25 last week. He became emotional when he saw the support from perfect strangers during Sunday’s race, which was an event in honor of his son.

“I love them all. My family has increased. I have one child over in Japan, Guam, now I have like 50 children,” says Martin.

While this event was dedicated to Petty Officer Martin, there were also other Gold Star families present.

Pat Cappaelaere from Ellicott City helped organize the race in Baltimore. He took the tragedy of losing his daughter, who was a Navy pilot and decided to help others during the grieving process.

“Today is a start, it’s not just a run, it’s a way to get the community together and keep going, and working and serve in honor of our heroes,” he says.

Children also participated in this 5k and one mile run in honor of fallen heroes.

Organizers say a total of seven Gold Star families helped to launch this memorial race in Baltimore.

The 9/11 Heroes Run series was inspired by Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion, who was killed by a sniper in Iraq in April 2007. The run began as a small gathering in one community in Pennsylvania in 2007. Races now take place in more than 50 cities.

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