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Livin’ My Best Life

  • Published
  • By by Staff Sgt. Laura J. Montgomery
  • 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
For a brief moment, colored chalk painted the sky; overshadowing recent loss and filling the air with love. Family and friends of the North Carolina Air National Guard joined together Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 for a one-mile fun run/walk in honor of recently deceased U.S. Air Force Recruiter, Master Sgt. Valanda Pettis, at the fitness track located on base at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The one-mile race, orchestrated by the North Carolina Air National Guard recruiting office, brought together more than 100 participants and chalk-tossing spectators in support of MSgt Pettis and her family.

“We just really wanted to remember her in a really positive way. This is the way she deserved,” said Tech. Sgt. Nikki Morgan, production recruiter for the 145th Airlift Wing.

Tech. Sgt. Morgan met Master Sgt. Pettis nine months ago in recruiting school and within six weeks they bonded as sisters in uniform. Master Sgt. Pettis was known for her colorful and positive personality, even in the face of adversity.

“All the color, she was always smiling, always colorful, always bright, always cheery; so if fit her to be recognized in a colorful way,” said Tech. Sgt. Morgan. “So Valanda would always go around just saying ‘I’m living my best life’ and it’s actually a song; she would actually go around singing it no matter what day it was or what mood she was in, she would always be singing ‘I’m living my best life.’”

Following the race, members were invited to participate in a fundraiser for the Cancer Wing at Novant Health Presbyterian where Master Sgt. Pettis was treated. Votes were cast to pie a commander in the face and one of the winners, 145th Mission Support Group Commander, Lt. Col. Lisa Kirk, used to supervise Master Sgt. Pettis.

“Valanda was a colorful character, I’ve always said she was the fiercest female I have ever known when she worked for me,” said Lt. Col. Kirk. “She truly was the fiercest female I have ever known. So what better way, more colorful way, to represent her.”

This is the North Carolina Air National Guard’s first color run event honoring a fallen service member.

“I hope we see more of this, I hope we see more of this family-type event and honoring our own, especially those that have fallen while still in uniform, and I just say thank you to everyone who was involved in this event,” said Lt. Col. Kirk. “It’s fantastic and I think this did a lot for morale this afternoon.”

“I think Valanda is up there smiling down on us right now and throwing chalk from heaven,” said Lt. Col. Kirk. “Thats what I think, she is just loving every minute of it.”