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Murfreesboro teen's memory lives on through charity race

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MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

A 14-year old who died after practicing with his high school cross country team is still having a big impact in his community.

An event planned for this weekend is proof that the teen's own words, and his love of the sport, are still making a difference.

If there were a book that could tell the life story of Bruce Gilley, it wouldn't be on a library shelf.

"Saturday, Feb. 14, 2004," said his mother Melissa Gilley, as she read an excerpt from his journal. "We only live once, and we never know when life is going to end."

The 14-year-old often took pen to paper, documenting his own life and writing his daily thoughts in a journal.

"If it's God's will, I could die tomorrow," Melissa Gilley read from her son's journal. "Life can be over in a heart beat."

Bruce Gilley was a happy and healthy teen who loved to run. He was on the Oakland High School cross-country team, and had just finished a practice run Aug. 20, 2004.

"His coach asked him how was his run, and Bruce said, 'It was good.' He smiled, and collapsed on the field and passed away from an undetected heart deformity," Melissa Gilley said.

The boy's mother said the impact he made in his 14 short years on earth will last an eternity.

"It's such a gift for us to continue to share Bruce's life," she said.

The Gilleys have started the Bruce Gilley Memorial Foundation, making sure his memory lives on through scholarships, camps and mission trips.

"Last year, we were blessed to send kids to Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and one to Africa," Melissa Gilley said. "Bruce wanted to be a missionary."

Saturday will mark the 5th annual Run For Him 5K-10K Run/Walk, and proceeds from the event will help with that effort.

Last year, about 500 people participated.

Bruce Gilley even wrote an everlasting message in a friend's book at church two days before he died.

"[He wrote] 'He died for me, I live for him,' so that's been our message," Melissa Gilley said. "That's what we want to share about Bruce. That's the way he lived his life."

The Gilleys have shared Bruce's journal with thousands of people around the world, and each runner at the benefit run also gets a copy.

The race begins Saturday at 7:30 a.m. at Bell Aire Baptist Church on Rutherford Boulevard in Murfreesboro.

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