The event saw a wide spread of people from the com­munity from college stu­dents to Hillsdale locals. Courtesy | Hillsdale American Legion

From eight-year-olds to 80-year olds, “Running for Heroes 5K,” hosted by the American Legion, brought together the Hillsdale com­munity on Sat­urday, April 17 to support vet­erans and dis­ad­van­taged members of the community.

“The com­munity really rallied around inclu­sivity and finding the trea­sures in our pop­u­lation that get undersold and under­valued,” American Legion event coor­di­nator David Ham­bleton said.

The American Legion is the oldest vet­erans service orga­ni­zation in the United States. The Legion part­nered this year with Key Oppor­tu­nities Inc., an orga­ni­zation that serves indi­viduals with dis­abil­ities or dis­ad­van­tages. The pro­ceeds of the event were split between the Legion and Key Opportunities.

The event saw a wide spread of people from the com­munity from college stu­dents to Hillsdale locals. Ham­bleton said Key Oppor­tu­nities posted a winner podium, which went very well.

“We had a lot of folks from Key Oppor­tu­nities who really seemed to enjoy it. It makes you feel good to see people out there doing some­thing new and expanding their horizons,” post com­mander for the Hillsdale American Legion Post Chris Parks said. “One of the guys who got up to the podium had a grin ear to ear and that made everyone’s day.”

Georgia Mason, program manager at Key Oppor­tu­nities and lead at the event said the people from Key Oppor­tu­nities enjoyed the oppor­tunity the event provided.

“It’s important for people with dis­abil­ities to have the oppor­tunity to par­tic­ipate in com­mu­nities equally with everyone else,” Mason said. “It was a won­derful event. It was just joyful to watch the success that the folks who work at Key had with the event. Some of them have physical chal­lenges and they even sur­prised them­selves that they were able to suc­cess­fully finish that long of a walk. They are all ready to do it again.”

The weather was the best the Legion had seen yet in the series.

“Sat­urday was the warmest,” Ham­bleton said. “It was also the best par­tic­i­pation. We had around 70 runners.”

This event is part of the Running for Heroes series the Legion started last spring. It is also the first event of the two-part annual series. The upcoming event will be in Sep­tember on 9/1l.

“In the fall, we’re going to do one called ‘Tunnels to Towers.’ On 9/11, New York responders got stuck in a tunnel and so they ran to the towers with their full gear. What we’re going to be doing is a kit run with the fire department and then a normal 5k.”