Friday would have been Ahmaud Arbery’s 26th birthday.
Instead of celebrating, people all over the world are mourning the Georgia man’s life by jogging 2.23 miles, symbolic of the date Arbery was fatally shot and killed while running – February 23, 2020.
Arbery was jogging in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia, when former police officer, Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, who were armed, chased Arbery down, according to authorities. The pair said they thought he looked like the suspect in a series of recent area break-ins, authorities said. Arbery was shot after struggling with the son over his shotgun, according to a Glynn County Police report.
On Thursday, Gregory and Travis McMicheal were arrested and face murder and aggravated assault charges, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Running with Arbery’s ‘endurance and strength’
Jason Vaughn, Arbery’s football coach at Brunswick High School told CNN Friday that Arbery loved to run so, it only seemed natural to call on people to support and remember his life by committing to run 2.23 miles. Vaughn asked people participating in the run to document their efforts under #IRunWithMaud.
“That’s been our logo on our darkest days,” Vaughn said. “I run with Maud and I run with his endurance and his strength.”
Vaughn said seeing just the amount of support from communities all over the world has been nothing short of amazing. He summarized the online foot traffic as unbelievable.
“This is going to be great when I talk to the family today to show just these positive videos,” he said. “It’s so awesome that everybody came together to stand behind this family and support this family during this difficult time.”
On Friday, Vaughn ran his 2.23 miles and ended up in the spot where he last saw Arbery running in a Brunswick neighborhood. In a video documenting his run, Vaughn tearfully reflected on that day.
“With God’s strength, I will not get tired until we get justice and until your family finds peace,” Vaughn said in a video he took from his run. “I want you to know that you have a whole community behind you.”
Runners are giving the family hope
Danielle O’Neil, 41, an avid runner in Apollo Beach, Florida told CNN she participated in the #IrunwithMaud movement because even after learning about the events that led to Arbery’s death, she still can’t comprehend what happened.
“I know my impact can be minimal,” she said. “I am not going to be able to stop racial profiling. But if I can show my daughter that this behavior is unacceptable and show her that I will run in honor of a man that we don’t know because this is one way we can make our voice heard, then I’m happy to run a marathon for him if I have to.”
Filsan Abdiaman, 32 is a runner living in Vancouver, British Columbia who told CNN she predominately runs in “white spaces” and has had some uncomfortable experiences during runs in the more urban parts of her city.
“I feel we, as a running community can come together and work actively to ensure that every runner feels safe regardless of their skin colour,” she said. “And that means doing a lot more than giving just lip service to diversity and inclusion— actively ensuring that everyone belongs and is represented in those white running spaces.”
Alex Ross, 42, told CNN he dedicated his Friday run in Erie, Colorado, to Arbery in hopes of raising awareness.
“I wanted to dedicate this run to someone I don’t know that has a family hurting because we need to come together to be stronger,” he said.”In these times we need to stop being selfish and look out for others more. There seems to be the sentiment that if it’s not happening to me then it’s not real or important.”
CNN’s Madeline Holcombe and Amir Vera contributed to this report