By Randy TisorNovember 14, 2008
More than 370 runners, walkers and joggers participated in the first Run 4 U.S. held at Turkey Creek Ranch on Fort Carson Saturday.
Members of running clubs, as well as individuals, traveled from throughout the Front Range to take part in the four-mile run intended to bring awareness and raise money for injured Soldiers and their Families.
Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera was on hand to start the event and briefly addressed the crowd of eager runners before giving them the green light to go.
Although the weather and location made for ideal running or walking conditions, Rivera stressed the underlying need that brought everyone together.
"We are here today to support our wounded warriors and their Families," he said, adding that it was a great honor for Fort Carson and the city of Colorado Springs to host the event and take a leading role in supporting wounded warriors.
Debbie Quackenbush, founder of American Military Family and one of the two key organizers of the run, said the eventual goal is to greatly expand the Run 4 U.S. She would like to see the event grow as large as other nationwide events like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
"Our hope today is that we make a lasting impression on everybody as we try to take this event to a national level," Quackenbush said. "We're trying to raise wounded warrior awareness so that people will understand that they can do something to support the troops. It's a tangible way to show support for the military and put your money where your mouth is. This is a great idea and a great concept and we plan to expand this in a big way."
Quackenbush added that as many as 800 races could be run nationwide if the Run 4 U.S. takes off as a national event.
"It's a great win-win," Quackenbush said, noting that the event was a lot of fun for the participants and event staff. She added that the organizers were successful in not only raising awareness for the needs of wounded warriors and their Families, but were successful in raising funds as well. Somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 was expected to be raised for local wounded warriors and their Families. Should the event grow as expected, the amount of money raised would total in the millions of dollars.
Al Roberts, marketing manager of Sam's Club for Southern Colorado and New Mexico, said the Run 4 U.S. event was a great opportunity for Sam's Club to show support for the military community.
"There isn't anything more important than supporting our troops and military personnel," Roberts said. Roberts noted that Sam's Clubs in Southern Colorado employ many military spouses and seeks out ways to help military Families. "This is exciting for us as sponsors and we're looking forward to next year and having this event go nationwide."
Sam's Club was one of several Colorado Springs area businesses sponsoring the first-time event.
For participants not interested in or able to run the four-mile course, a one-mile walking route was available. Many runners and walkers also chose to honor a specific wounded warrior by wearing T-shirts with Soldiers' names and faces on them.
After the run, Fort Carson's Harmony in Motion vocal group and The Kory Brunson Band performed for the crowd. Throughout the event, two members of the Denver Broncos Cheerleading squad supported the cause by signing autographs and taking photos with event attendees.
The Home Front Cares co-organized the event alongside American Military Family. Both are non-profit groups headquartered in Colorado and share in common their primary mission of supporting Soldiers and their Families.