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FSU fallen soldier lives on with 5K and ROTC scholarship

Posted at 6:26 PM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 18:29:57-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A Tallahassee family is keeping their son’s memory alive while helping their community.

Justin Sisson is a Florida State graduate who died in 2013 while serving in the military.

For the past six years the Sisson family has organized the 'Justin Sisson 5K for the Fallen' that starts at FSU's Langford Green.

"He loved people," said Phyllis Sisson, Justin's mother. "The energy literally went up in the room when he was there."

Phyllis Sisson, Justin's mother, lives today to carry on the legacy of her son.

Growing up, Justin knew that he wanted to serve in the United States military.

Following his graduation from FSU when he was 23-years-old he was deployed to Afghanistan.

"On June third he was providing security to his platoon for the Afgans," Sisson recounted. "A suicide bomber on a motor bike approached his platoon and detonated his bomb and killed my son, one of his soldiers, and injured his platoon severely."

It's news no family is ever prepared to hear, but Sisson knew the life of her son did not end on the battlefield.

"Justin left a legacy for us," said Sisson. "He told us what we wanted to have done. He wrote it in his diary for us. It was to give back to Florida State ROTC."

The family did just that. They decided to hold the 'Justin Sisson 5K For the Fallen.'

The money raised each year is put into the 'Justin Sisson Outstanding Cadet Scholarship,' benefiting students at FSU.

Nicholas Saris is one of the recipients.

"The scholarship represents something greater than myself," Saris said. "It represents a man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. His legacy continues to live on and impact those he didn't even know."

Saris, along with others at the university, are inspired daily by the life of Justin Sisson.

So far, the 5K has brought in $200,000 to go toward the scholarship fund.

"It was truly a relief," said Saris. "It lifted a burden off of myself and my family. I was able to pay for books, my classes, groceries. The essentials."

The 5K will take place Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at Langford Green, and there is still time to sign up on the website.