BIGFORK, Mont. -

Folks in Bigfork started their Fourth of July early with the Freedom Run.

Around 400 participants turned up for the 5K and fun walk along the Swan River Trail.

Proceeds from the event benefit Grateful Nation Montana, which helps facilitate a college education for children of fallen soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Grateful Nation's David Bell credits the success of the program to living in what he calls a "deeply patriotic state."

"Some of them, 43 from Montana, have paid the ultimate price," explained Bell. "Those of us in the citizen community we've got an obligation to put our arms around these kids and provide for them when their parents ultimately gave their lives protecting our freedom."