Rochester, N.Y. --- This Saturday Puerto Rican Festival events begin with the SSGT Javier Ortiz Memorial 5K Run and Walk. Ortiz-Rivera was 26 years-old when he was killed by a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan. The fallen Marine was an Edison Tech alum and a father to three children.
But Staff Sergeant Javier Ortiz Rivera was also a brother to Orlando Ortiz, one of the festival’s organizers. Orlando recalls running this very same 5K race with his brother Javier three years ago.
"He actually ran the first year we had it three years ago so that was very emotional last year not to have him there," Orlando Ortiz said.
Orlando recalls an unexpected emotion from a lasting memory that struck him as he neared the finish line.
"In the first year that (Javier) ran he actually finished and then he ran back to catch up to me and then we actually finished about a half mile together,” Ortiz said of his brother. “So running it last year was definitely an emotional half-mile and ending for me."
Ortiz-Rivera’s children now live in North Carolina with their mother. Andrew is now six, Anthony is four, and Alyssa is nine. Each is growing up with fond memories of their “Papi” who is admired by many here in Rochester.
Orlando Ortiz says the family is often approached by children or families who consider his brother a role model and an example for others.
"We do hear that and it is our hope through events like this race and others that we can continue keeping those memories alive and understand the sacrifices these gentleman and women have made in their lives," Ortiz said.
Registration for Saturday’s 5K Walk & Run begins at 8 a.m. at Frontier Field and the event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. All proceeds go to benefit the Veterans Outreach Center.
To register online or to print the registration application and bring it with you to the event simply click here.