On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while out running in Brunswick, Georgia. Because Arbery was never able to finish that run, his family wants the running community, locally and globally, to help him finish it a year after his slaying.
Arbery’s family, along with the 2:23 Foundation—a nonprofit formed in Arbery’s memory, committed to fighting systemic injustices—will host a virtual run called #FinishtheRun. Participants can run, walk, or ride 2.23 miles any time from February 23 to March 3, to keep Arbery’s memory alive. Additionally, participants should share their runs on social media using the hashtags #FinishTheRun and #223fdn.
Race registration costs $23. Proceeds will go directly to a 2:23 Foundation scholarship fund that provides young men and women the opportunity to become future lawyers, local leaders, policymakers, social engineers, and other social justice-based career paths. You can sign up for the event here.
“We’re trying to create change, and we know we have to invest into the future,” Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s high school football coach and cofounder of the 2:23 Foundation, told Runner’s World. “So every dime goes into scholarships for students who will be pursuing degrees in social justice.”
The 2:23 Foundation is committed to engaging, educating, and equipping young Black and Brown children for social justice advocacy through scholarships, training, and leadership opportunities. Those involved in the foundation have been working in the community since June, helping locally in various ways from feeding those in need to helping efforts in Georgia to encourage voters to get out and vote. Organizers have also hosted virtual runs on the 23rd of each month as Arbery’s killers have been on trial.
Those runs, and Arbery’s passion for running, sparked the virtual run to remember Arbery on February 23. Individuals or teams are welcome to sign up. Vaughn said over 500 people have signed up so far, and some Olympians have reached out already to help promote and run for Arbery.
“We know the 23rd of February is going to be a tough day—a tough day for the family, a tough day for 2:23,” Vaughn said. “Just knowing that many people are still around and still supporting us, that’s huge.”
When you sign up, you will be asked to also include a reason for why you are choosing to “finish the run.” Over the past year, the family has heard from people all over the world, sharing messages of support and also their own fears about going out for a run whether because of their skin colour, their gender, and other reasons.
“They have said that in certain neighborhoods or certain areas, they have felt uncomfortable, so they know how it feels to be out doing something you love and somebody making it very uncomfortable situation for you,” Vaughn said. “Fortunately, in their case, they were able to go home, but Maud wasn’t. They can relate being out running and being vulnerable to other people. We get so many of those stories.”
In addition to a virtual event, the local community will also host a memorial walk on February 23 through Satilla Shores, the neighborhood where Arbery was killed. A candlelight walk will take place to the site of his death, and then Arbery’s father will speak.
“We’ll be walking with the family, his uncle, his brother, his father, and walking into Satilla Shores to go to the site where Maud was killed,” Vaughn said. “The family will speak and then we’ll have the opportunity to do something Maud didn’t get to do which is walk out of the neighbourhood alive. We want to show how much love we as a community have. That’s why we’re doing this locally and globally.”