It was a record-breaking day on Sunday, April 28, 2019 as nearly 24,000 runners toed the line for the 19th annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Of the thousands in attendance, the group (8 employees plus a husband and a nephew) from Exhibit Concepts was there to take in the experience and hit the ground running (or walking!) after training through the cold Ohio winter.
2019 marks the 24th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, and the race serves to remember those who were killed that fateful day—and all proceeds from the race benefit the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Not only was the race course packed with participants—supporters from all over the country stood on the sidelines to cheer participants along the way.
Marathons and half marathons are grueling tests of endurance whether you run or walk. And it is common for race organizers to ensure the course has plenty of entertainment to keep participants motivated throughout the day. But in the case of a memorial marathon, they also serve a meaningful experience at their core. In the case of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, participants pass 168 banners along the course, each bearing the name and photograph of someone who was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing.
We’re happy to report all of our ECI participants crossed the finish line, each reporting that it was a beautiful day for the race and they felt the experience is one they won’t soon forget. Our work leading the initial fabrication and installation of the museum and its completion in 2001, as well as renovations completed in 2014 is what inspired us to sponsor our employees to run the race; we wanted to give back and support a community that has become impactful and meaningful to us. In addition to the race, a group of ECI employees also visited the Oklahoma City Memorial Museum and of course, our associates described the overall experience best:
“We had the opportunity to travel to the Oklahoma City for the Memorial Marathon and Museum. To say that I was touched by the experience doesn’t even come close to shedding light on my feelings on the experience. I was completely overwhelmed by the scope of the museum; beginning with the time line of events leading up to the deadly blast, listening to the actual recording, watching the news coverage, and finally, witnessing the beautiful exhibits that Exhibit Concepts were part of creating. One gets a true sense of the extreme terror that day brought to innocent civilians. Combined with the beautiful outdoor grounds and memorial, the museum is a touching preservation of history and a reminder to uphold the memory of the 168 men, women, and children who lost their lives that day.” – Regina Henning, Senior Account Manager
“It was such a moving experience to see the museum and the impact ECI has been able to make by installing the exhibits, and then tying that directly into the memorial marathon route which created a race weekend unlike any other I’ve participated in. I’m so excited to have been a part of the museum, marathon and memorial activities.” – Misty Boyd, Project Manager
“I really enjoyed seeing all the beautiful work ECI has done at the Memorial Museum. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in the marathon and tried my best to bring home the gold. Alas, it was not enough to win, but an amazing experience I will never forget.” – Tony Accrocco, Designer
“The museum was small but powerful; it was packed with every detail of the day which really helped to put me in the victims’ or survivors’ shoes. The most impactful elements were the videos of news footage from that day, and hearing frantic parents looking for their kids. Making the connection that those kids would have been around my age now really hits you. The whole experience was focused on reflecting and remembering, and most importantly, rebuilding. That strength was evident in every part of the race, from the pre-race service remembering what happened to the names and faces of the victims posted all along the last couple miles of the course. It gave me a new appreciation for Oklahoma.” – Priscilla Esatto, Designer
“I was very excited to have the opportunity to participate in the OKC marathon. Having never been in one, I didn’t know what to expect and unfortunately didn’t prepare myself as well as I should have – the result was a slight injury to my knee early on in the race but I kept going because I was determined to finish. Approaching mile 10 my injury was becoming a stabbing pain and I was considering tapping out to avoid a more serious injury, when I looked up and saw the face of one of the victims of the bombing. It was a little boy around two named Elijah. I thought of my son and how I couldn’t imagine losing him at such a young age in such a senseless way, and I thought – THAT is pain, the kind that won’t be over in a day or two, the kind that lasts forever and changes your life. I thought of Elijah’s mom and the pain I was experiencing was quickly put into perspective. The last 3.1 miles I focused my thoughts on the reason for the marathon, and how fortunate I was to be there. I felt a sense of accomplishment crossing the finish line but at the same time, I was humbled by the experience. It is really great to work for a company that gives their employees an opportunity to participate in client events. I feel very lucky to have had a part in it.” – Theresa Hirt, Marketing Coordinator
Remembering the lives of those lost and seeing firsthand that Oklahoma City rebuilt and came together stronger as a community was inspiring for our employees. We are so proud of them for representing ECI and showing their love and support to those lost, those who lost loved ones and the survivors.