Running for LOVESWEET

by Airman 1st Class Scott Saldukas
Ramstein Public Affairs

More than 300 Airmen and dependants flooded the tennis courts of the Southside Fitness Center March 20 to participate in the 5K LOVESWEET Memorial Run to honor the loss of a fellow Airman.

The run was in honor of Tech. Sgt. Jessica Sweet, 435th Communication Squadron supply troop, who died of acute myelogeneous leukemia Feb. 12.

Sergeant Sweet, the mother of three children and wife of Master Sgt. Christopher Sweet, was diagnosed with AML at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Sept. 18, 2006, and received treatment prior to her death at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

AML is a cancer that starts in cells, developing abnormal blood cells. AML spreads quickly if not treated, according to the American Cancer Society.

“She was the toughest person I had ever met,” Mr. Sweet said.

When her husband received word that there would be a run in honor of his wife, there was no hesitation when making up his mind to be there when it happened.

“Coming back (to Ramstein) was a good thing,” he said. “It was able to give me some closure and allowed me to say goodbye the right way.”

Her husband and friends knew how much of a fitness fanatic she was, so the 5K run was the perfect event to honor her.

“The biggest passion Jessica had besides her family was fitness,” said Staff Sgt. Amy Mackey, NCOIC of communication and information systems for the Air Force Element Personnel Exchange Program.

Being passionate about fitness was displayed all the time by the Youngstown, Ohio, native as she worked out and helped others try to reach their fitness goals.

“Jessica took fitness so serious that she used to wake up and be nervous for the people she knew were about to test,” her husband said. “When it was her time to test she still got nervous, even though she had never scored under a 100 on her PT test for the last six years.”

Although fitness was a huge part of her life, Sergeant Sweet left a lasting mark on others with her positive and caring attitude.

“She had such a desire to help people and was the most positive person I’ve ever known,” said Tech. Sgt. Monica Pubillones, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Headquarters air traffic controller.

She truly cared not just about her family, but her friends as well, her husband said.

Sergeant Mackey and Sergeant Pubillones, two of Sergeant Sweet’s closest friends from Ramstein, organized the memorial run. Knowing that the run would be a perfect fit, the name of the run was also an easy fit.

“Jess came up with LIVESWEET in the hospital right before she was medevaced to Walter Reed,” Sergeant Mackey said.

Sergeant Sweet took the idea from cyclist Lance Armstrong, who came up with LIVESTRONG, a  slogan for his global cancer campaign.

“When she got to Walter Reed, to show her love to everyone, she put together LIVESWEET and LOVESWEET; it was to make sure that we live and love like she did.”

Although it was cold and sunny on the day of the 5K, the orange LOVESWEET shirts seemed to shine a little brighter while everybody cheered each other on to finish and displayed some of her positive attitude by smiling for Sergeant Sweet.