Kirk Bosselmann was a risk-taker. As a sportsman, a firefighter, an aspiring smoke-jumper, and a United States Marine, he loved pushing his own limits.
He would have liked the idea that friends and family chose to remember him by pushing theirs.
On Sunday, 26 runners will take part in the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., to raise money for charity in memory of Bosselmann, who was killed Nov. 27, 2004 fighting in Fallujah, Iraq.
THE RUNNERS include Bosselmann’s mother, Beverley Bosselmann, 53, of Dickerson, who is joint master of the Potomac Hunt; his sister, Kyla Feeney; six Marines based in Frederick; friends from Barnesville, Md., and an assortment of near-strangers who have learned Bosselmann’s story.
“Team Kirk” has collected pledges and donations for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, which supports injured sailors, marines, and reservists, as well the widows and families of soldiers who are killed.
Beverley Bosselmann said that the team has received pledges from around the country — from Kirk’s friends in Texas, North Carolina, Chicago, Canada and in the Washington, D.C., fire department.
“It shows a tremendous reflection on how highly people think of the military,” she said. But more than that, “It’s a fabulous reflection on Kirk.”
BOSSELMANN, a native Canadian, moved with his family to Dickerson in 1990. He graduated from Poolesville High School in 2001. He was a Montgomery County volunteer firefighter and loved hunting and outdoor sports. He joined the military shortly after high school, hoping to get the training there he would need to become a smoke jumper — a parachuting wild land firefighter.
Five months into his second tour in Iraq, Bosselmann was killed by an enemy sniper jumping rooftops to clear a path for the Bravo Company during the Battle of Fallujah. He was 21, and had just become a citizen of the country he was fighting for.
Bosselmann’s family had opposed his joining the military, but he was sure of himself, and Beverley Bosselmann said it clearly transformed him.
“He developed a different type of respect,” she said. “He became a man overnight.”
Bosselmann died as he had lived—putting his friends and comrades first.
“He cared more about other people more than he cared about himself and that is I think a very remarkable quality in someone who is young,” Beverley Bosselmann said.
It was that quality that led a friend to suggest the marathon fund-raiser, and led the Bosselmanns to select the Relief Society.
Beverley Bosselmann recalled that her son had called home in July, 2004 distraught because a friend had been killed.
“He was very upset because he said ‘That man is leaving a wife and two little boys.’ He was very concerned about the welfare of that family,” she said.
THE RELIEF SOCIETY supports such families, and donations are not only tax-deductible, but go in their entirety to the Society’s recipients, since its administrative costs are underwritten by another donor.
Beverley Bosselmann is among several first-time marathoners set to run on Sunday.
“The long days and months of unbelievably demanding and totally exhausting training have given us a new appreciation for the Marine way,” she wrote in a letter soliciting pledges.
But she’s not worried about the long hours, trying hours on the pavement.
She will be thinking of her son’s “tremendous courage and the gift of his life.”
She will be thinking of Kirk.