Support our troops!

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Run, volunteer, donate or cheer at the Heroes Run, in Forest

By Mike Forster

  What will you do?

The anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks is fast approaching.

Our men and women in uniform, stationed in the armpits of the universe, face peril on a daily basis.

Many return home inside of flag-drapped coffins.  Others will bear the wounds and scars of war the rest of their days.

As a citizen, you're fairly limited in what you can do.  You pay your taxes; you vote; you stick a metallic ribbon that says "Support our Troops" on your minivan. 

Well, there is something you can do to really show your support.  And it's right here in Bedford County.

On Saturday, Sept. 8, the area's second annual 9/11 Heroes Run will take place in Forest.

Options include 5K and one-mile jaunts.  The races start at 10 a.m. from the Aid Station, at 1035 Avalon Drive, which is near the Forest Kroger.  The course parallels a set of railroad tracks, meaning it's nice and flat.

"This would be an ideal course for first-time runners and families," noted race co-director Ed Breslow.

The entry fee is $25, which is comparable to other race fees.  There will be medals awarded in 12 age/gender categories, just as at other races.  There will be plenty of post-race goodies, t-shirts for the runners and fun events for the kiddos, just as with every other race.  

But this run is different from the plethora of events that dot the area's running calendar.

"This is a 5K to honor the 9K," said Breslow, referring to the approximately 9,000 Americans who perished in the 9/11 attack and in the subsequent war against terrorism.

This race will be an event that puts our service members and veterans front and center in our consciousness.

Steve Bozeman is the other co-director.  Along with that hat, Bozeman wears many others:  Vietnam War veteran, recipient of the Purple Heart (twice), ironman, ultramarathoner.

"The main thing I'm proud of is the 'Supporting Our Troops Rally' at (Lynchburg's) Monument Terrace." 

Indeed, Bozeman can be found at the downtown rally each Friday, just as he has for the past ten and a half years. 

"We're trying to get our current generation of warriors honored by past warriors and by the community," said Bozeman of the run.

Bozeman expects to see a color guard run the 5K course as well as a platoon of veterans from American Legion Post 16.  He also anticipates welcoming some disabled veterans who will work their way through either the 5K or the mile.  Still, he's very interested in getting those without a connection into the mix.

"9/11 is to our generation what Pearl Harbor was to our parents," he noted.  "Getting kids to participate is important, so they can reflect on (9/11)."

Last year's race raised over $2,000, which was given to the Military Order of the Purple Heart.  That organization is dedicated to helping wounded veterans, such as U.S. Army SSGT Chris Walker, of Altavista.

Walker lost his left leg and both of his arms to an IED in Afghanistan.  Bozeman hopes some of the money raised by the Heroes Run will go toward building Sergeant Walker a home of his own.

"We know, first-hand, of the needs of veterans in Central Virginia," said Bozeman. A

And those needs are significant.

"Come out.  Run, volunteer, donate or cheer," encouraged Breslow.  "We want to honor the fallen by challenging the living."

You can sign up by going to:  www.911heroesrun.com/runs/locations/Virginia/Forest.