THE SHANE CANTU 5K began on E. Mason Street in Owosso in front of American Legion Post 57, with 104 participants. All proceeds acquired through registration go to the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary in recognition of the Shane Cantu Campaign in support of veterans.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


   The 6th Annual Pfc. Shane Cantu 5K race was held in downtown Owosso on Sunday morning, Aug. 29, marking a return for the event following the 2020 pandemic shut down. A crowd of people loosely gathered on the corner of Park and Mason streets, near the front of American Legion Post 57, including 104 run/walk participants. The race is a fundraiser with all proceeds going to support the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary Post 57 efforts in helping veterans.

   With a recent refocus toward Afghanistan and the United States exit from that country after a 20-year involvement following the 9/11 attacks, it could be argued that the timing of the Cantu 5K is extremely relevant. U.S. Army Pfc. Shane Cantu was serving during his first tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was killed August 28, 2012. Cantu, a 2010 graduate of Corunna High School, was a member of the Army’s 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment and 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Cantu was killed during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) – the official name the U.S. used in describing the war on terrorism. OEF ended in December 2014 when then President Barack Obama announced its end. Conflict in the area continued – and continues to this day.

   Jennifer Clarke, Cantu’s mother, has relentlessly carried the memory of her son forward. A vigil for Shane was held in remembrance of the 9th anniversary of his death the night prior to the race on Sunday. Clarke and Cantu/Clarke family members understand the tragic loss in a manner that few can conceive, which is perhaps why it is necessary to reflect on the people behind the uniform when thinking of local veterans.

   Shane was born a twin, having a sister named Shanel. The twins were premature, living at Hurley Medical Center in Flint for roughly the first month of their lives. Shane and Shanel have an older sibling, Shiann, just three when they were born. Jennifer, their mother, has previously described the siblings as being close while they were young.

   In time, Shane, who his mother described as always having “been a character,” due to his outgoing personality, fell in love with football, playing the sport throughout his school years and developing a close connection to his coaches. After high school, like many young people, Shane didn’t have a focus on what he wanted to do in life. He tried college, which didn’t work for him. Following his mother’s advice as she witnessed him making some bad decisions, he entered into the military – loving the Army.

   Jennifer has since stated that she hopes “people will remember Shane, but also remember all veterans. All of them, whether they’re fighting or not.” She remains active in working at American Legion Post 57 and in the community, believing she is helping her son to complete his mission by helping other veterans through fundraising work like the Cantu 5K race.

   In 2015, the Corunna Public School District unveiled the Shane Cantu Memorial at the Nick Annese Athletic Field. A tree planting and dedication was held at Emerson Elementary in Owosso. An outdoor patio was named after Shane at the American Legion. In October 2018, a dedication ceremony for the Pfc. Shane Cantu Memorial Highway took place along a stretch of M-71 between Owosso and Corunna – a goal State Rep. Ben Frederick had assisted Jennifer in accomplishing.

   For those looking to assist in future efforts, a “Campaign for Shane” Facebook page is publically accessible for more information. American Legion Post 57 is located on E. Mason St., Owosso.

Community Continues to Gather to Support Pfc. Shane Cantu Campaign was last modified: September 7th, 2021 by Karen Elford