When Annette Tolliver ran in the recent Ironman 70.3 in Chattanooga, it wasn't for her own sense of accomplishment or to fulfill a personal goal.
"I've always been active, but it's always been about me keeping my body in shape," said Tolliver, a Highway 58-area resident and McKee Foods employee who often runs half, full and ultra marathons. "I run for a bigger purpose now. It's not all about me."
About a year and a half ago, she and her husband joined the Chattanooga chapter of Team RWB, an organization that seeks to engage veterans and active members of the military in meaningful social and physical activities to foster relationships and a renewed sense of purpose.
Since then, Tolliver has carried the American flag when she runs in half marathons, to honor those who fight for the nation's freedom — including her daughter, an active member of the military who is currently stationed in Germany. Tolliver has never carried the flag for a race longer than a half marathon, but she hopes to try during this year's Chicago Marathon, set for Oct. 7.
"When I run with the flag, I want to bring recognition to the people who are still out there fighting for us to do what we want to do," said Tolliver, whose father and uncles, as well as her husband's father, were all in the military. "There's people fighting and still dying for our freedom, and we don't even think of it."
When she volunteers with Team RWB, sometimes the group will run with a group of veterans at Enterprise South. Other times, they'll all get a beer and a pizza together or go bowling.
"It's something bigger than me, and I like that," Tolliver said.
To learn more about Team RWB, visit teamrwb.org or facebook.com/teamrwbchattanooga.