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A man who made a difference

During the dozen or so years he served as an Air Force Junior ROTC instructor at Lakeland High School, Master Sgt. Selwyn Curtis made quite an impression on his young charges.

“He meant a lot to the students,” Maj. Dale Blake, senior aerospace science instructor, said this week. “A lot of the alumni made an effort to come back to his memorial service and pay their respects.”

Curtis died of cancer in August 2016 at age 64. Even now, more than a year later, those who knew him miss him and want to honor him. That’s why they have organized a special event on Saturday at Sleepy Hole Park.

The Lakeland JROTC’s first 5K Color Run will be held in memory of Curtis, who was known for pushing his students to do and be their best and for making people laugh and feel at ease, even in the sometimes-harsh conditions of quasi-military training in high school.

The color run honors both parts of Curtis’ character. It’s a race, which pays homage to his capacity to challenge his students; and it’s also just a fun, Halloween-themed event, so participants will have no need to be too serious.

Runners will navigate a path of scarecrows, fake spider webs and other festive decorations as JROTC volunteers — dressed in black and orange — throw powder and brightly colored paint. Water and snacks will be provided, and prizes will be awarded to the top runners.

The proceeds will benefit the National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club, of which Curtis was a member. The organization promotes motorcycle safety and educates the public on the history of the all-black 9th and 10th U.S. cavalries, formed in 1861.

The cost to participate is $20 for the public and $15 for students. Registration begins at 11 a.m., and runners will start at noon. What a great way to remember a man who made a real difference at Lakeland High School.