By Sgt. 1st Class David E. Gillespie, 8th Theater Sustainment Command Public AffairsFebruary 18, 2009
HONOLULU - As some 20,000 runners hit the streets for the 2009 Hawaii Telcom Great Aloha Run here at sunrise Monday, more than 2,500 troops, running as the "Sounds of Freedom," demonstrated their cadences and esprit de corps.
Now in its 25th year, the Great Aloha Run is an 8.15-mile trek along Honolulu harbor from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium. The "Sounds of Freedom" features military units running in formation and began in the second year of the GAR. The charity event benefits Carole Kai Charities, a philanthropic fund run by Hawaii entertainer and GAR co-founder Carole Kai Onouye, and has generated more than $7.6 million for more than 150 nonprofit organizations, including more than $350,000 for military Morale, Welfare, and Recreation organizations.
"For every Department of Defense member participating in the race, $1 will be donated to their branch of service\'s MWR in Hawaii," Onouye said. "This includes active-duty service members, DoD civilians and their children and spouses."
In addition to the funds raised for MWR, Onouye presented a check for $1,500 to the Warrior Transition Unit for wounded warriors.
"Giving back to the military has been very gratifying because my whole family has always been connected with the military in some fashion," Onouye explained. "There is a long line of military in our family, so it runs in my blood and I'm a dyed-in-the-wool military patriot. It means a lot that the military has a presence here and it gives the people a lot of pride and feeling of being very proud to be an American when they see our troops, both men and women, going by, chanting."
Being a part of the Sounds of Freedom is just fantastic, said Lt. Col. Ed Burke, commander of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command's Special Troops Battalion.
"I couldn't imagine any place I'd rather be - the weather's great, Soldiers are motivated, and hopefully the run is not too fast," Burke quipped before the race.
With the exception of the Marine Corps Marathon, this foot race is the largest military participatory event in the world, Onouye said, even surpassing the Army Ten-Miler. And logistics for the military participation in Hawaii was no ordinary task.
"The 8th Theater Sustainment Command took the lead in coordinating all military units for the Sounds of Freedom, as well as taskings for all the logistics of the race," said Sgt. 1st Class Previn Parker, 8th TSC operations NCO. "Planning meetings, registration, packet completion, t-shirt pickup, bus transportation to move Soldiers to and from the race, race day coordination, water buffalos, water stations, aid stations ... we've been working on this for four months," Parker explained. "Last year there were 3,000 troops and in 2007 there were nearly 4,000. This year, despite all of the deployments, we still had more than 2,500 troops here. That's more than $2,500 going back into the community for Soldiers' needs."