By Michelle W. KingOctober 31, 2013
WASHINGTON (Oct. 31, 2013) -- After months of preparation, blanketed under partly cloudy skies with a temperature of 69 degrees, it was a beautiful day for the 29th Annual Army Ten-Miler at the Pentagon, Oct 20.
"The Army Ten-Miler 'Warrior Tent,' in its third year, was originally initiated to provide a means of honoring all the amazing wounded, ill or injured service members and veterans who participate in the race," said Lt. Col. Jeanette Griffin, an Army Reserve Soldier and one of the Warrior Tent organizers. "This year we are excited to have Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets come out as volunteers to set up the tent, support and interact with the athletes who have turned their adversity into inspiration for others," said Griffin.
The 11 cadet volunteers from Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or JROTC, at Forest Park High School, Woodbridge, Va., began the morning with the preparation of the Warrior Tent in the Hooah Tent Zone. Cadets placed banners and poster displays of wounded, ill or injured service members and veterans both inside and outside of the tent.
The cadets moved to the starting line to join the more than 35,000 registered race participants and thousands of spectators, in pre-race activities. As the race kicked off, cadets cheered loudly in support of the more than 85 athletes who competed in the Wounded Warrior and Wheelchair category.
Following the race, the cadets greeted athletes and guests with delicious homemade chili and hot beverages under the comfort of the Warrior Tent.
"This is such a memorable event," said Cadet Thomas Krowitz of Woodbridge, Va. "It is heartwarming to see the people support the wounded warriors."
Griffin, a Logistician with the Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va. was fortunate to reconnect with retired Lt. Col. Jacqueline Bullock, senior Army instructor, Army JROTC at Forest Park High School. Both Griffin and Bullock served at the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, in Alexandria, Va., for four years.
"The Army Ten-Miler is one of several events that the Forest Park Bruin Battalion will participate in this year as a part of their community service plan," said Bullock. "Our mission in JROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens."
"The cadets' decision to support wounded warriors this year lends to the core of our mission," she added. "It is representative of the Army value of selfless service and provides an overwhelming feeling of giving back to the community."
Race participant Rory Cooper, Ph.D., recently honored with the International Paralympic Committee's 2013 Paralympic Science Award, visited the Warrior Tent and interacted with athletes, cadets and volunteers.
Cooper, an Army Veteran and former Paralympian received the International Paralympic Committee, or IPC, award for his contribution to the Paralympic Movement as an athlete, coach, event organizer and sports scientist. His work includes the creation and evaluation of new sports technologies, advancing equipment used in wheelchair racing, hand cycling, wheelchair tennis and seated throwing events.
The IPC prestigious international award is given to a researcher for his or her contributions to research in the field of sports for persons with an impairment, and it serves to promote and encourage further study in the area.
Cooper, who has a spinal cord injury, won the bronze medal in the wheelchair-racing relay at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games, and is also known for his work with Army leadership in building the warrior care and transition program and as lead editor of the "Warrior Transition Leader-Medical Rehabilitation Handbook."
Throughout the morning, athletes, cadets and guests were honored to greet and congratulate Cooper for his work in support of wounded warriors and others with disabilities.
"It was very heartwarming to be around so many great people who served our country," said Cadet Sean McCauley, of Woodbridge, Va. "I would love to come back and run and support the wounded warriors again."
Since 2001, Ayandria Barry, U.S. Army Wound Warrior Program advocate, North Region, Fort Belvoir, Va., has supported Soldiers and veterans who have participated in the Army Ten-Miler, and for the last three years, she has welcomed race finishers and guests to the Warrior Tent.
"It is great that we have a place to meet after the race," said Barry. "The Warrior Tent has become a favorite place for wounded, ill or injured service members, veterans and their families, to relax and warm up with hot chili and coffee while continuing to experience the camaraderie and excitement of the race."
Race participant Chief Warrant Officer 2nd Class Johnathan Holsey visited the tent and shared his remarkable story of recovery. On Nov. 10, 2004, while on convoy to Ramadi, Iraq, the vehicle in which he was a passenger struck an improvised explosive device. The blast from the device caused massive damage to his vehicle, resulting in severe injuries to his left leg. As a result, his left leg was amputated below the knee.
Holsey, who finished his sixth Army Ten-Miler race, is currently assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, near Mons, Belgium. During his visit, Holsey interacted with cadets and explained how he is able to run long-distances with the help of his prosthetic.
"I never ran the Army Ten-Miler or anything of this distance before I got injured," said Holsey. "When you look at the fact that I've done more after my injury than I did before, it just shows you how things you overcome can also empower you to be stronger and make you seek things that you probably never would have thought about doing."
The cadets were honored to meet Army Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler III, who provided words of encouragement not only in their measurement to support wounded warriors, but their quest to become leaders in JROTC.
"I am amazed that 35,000 people are a part of this event and a host of them are here to support the wounded warriors," said Cadet Devon Houghton, of Woodbridge, Va."Next year, we would like to have a JROTC platoon to run in the event."