San Jose Runners Briefly Detour Race to Thank Elderly WWII Vet

03/04/2014 at 02:45 PM EST



Winning the race might have been the goal, but a group of runners participating in a charity run had bigger priorities Sunday: thanking an elderly veteran for his service.

Joe Bell, a World War II veteran who still looks dapper in his military uniform at 95, was simply cheering on runners participating in the 408k race in San Jose, Calif., Sunday when something extraordinary happened.

It started as a trickle, but then the runners came in droves, lining up to shake hands with the sweet-looking man and thank him for his service in a video captured by the San Jose Mercury News. Nearly half the runners reportedly stopped to honor Bell.



The tribute fit perfectly with the spirit of the day: the 8-kilometer race raised money for the Pat Tillman Foundation, which offers educational scholarships to military veterans and their spouses.

Tillman, an all-star football player, famously put his NFL career on hold in 2002 to join the Army and fight for his country following the 9/11 attacks. Tillman was killed by friendly fire in 2004.

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