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.”