Friends and family remember ‘awesome’ Quad City soldier

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Friends and family are remembering a Quad City soldier this weekend with a 5K and softball tournament in his honor.

Sgt. Leevon Ritter graduated from Pleasant Valley High School in 2006 and enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduation. He served two tours of duty in Iraq and loved playing softball with his friends and building cars.

"He was a young man who just believed that he was awesome. He wasn't cocky, he wasn't arrogant, he just knew that he was, and he showed everybody, whether it was with his heart or his speed," said his mom Barb Ritter.

In 2012, Sgt. Ritter died after a motorcycle accident, but his legacy lives on at the thrift shop near Fort Hood that bears his name -- the Sgt. Leevon Ritter Support Your Troops Resale Center. The store provides military families with clothes, appliances, and other household items for free.

All the money raised this weekend will go to Operation Phantom Support, a military-based charity in Texas that runs the resale center, a food pantry, and offers other programs for veterans and active-duty military.

"They're struggling to make ends meet because the military has been cutting back different pay for being deployed and things like that, so our goal is to help these soldiers and veterans make it paycheck to paycheck without struggling as much," said John Valentine, CEO of Operation Phantom Support.

Friday, more than 80 runners participated in the first Sgt. Leevon Ritter 5K, running for a solider, brother, and friend.

"It's just become awesome, awesome," said Barb Ritter.

The softball tournament begins Saturday, June 21, with the National Anthem at 8:45 a.m. at the Dugout in Davenport. There will be raffle and silent auction items and all are invited to attend.

You can find more information on the Sgt. Ritter memorial events or Operation Phantom Support here.