Servicemembers can always count on a warm welcome from volunteers when they visit a USO locaA,Ation anywhere across the globe. Those same smileyA,Afaced, caring volunteers welcomed and encouraged about 271 runners who parA,Aticipated in the Fort Bragg USO 5K Run for the Troops Saturday in Fayetteville.
Runners, ages 8 to 73, lined up on Hull Road and followed the streets behind Fayetteville Technical Community College camA,Apus to participate in the first ever Fort Bragg USO sponsored road race. Jamie Carmichael, 28, the first runner to finish, blazed over the finish line completA,Aing the race in 16 minutes, 43 seconds.
The race was held as a fundraiser for the Fort Bragg USO and to show support for the local miliA,Atary. The USO plans to disA,Atribute proceeds from the race to programs operated at the center and outreach programs.
"Since we opened this past July we needed to find a way to help raise support and funds for the programs we support. When deciding on an event to host, we wanted to find a way to not only get the military side involved but also include civilians. A 5K was the best option," said Hoku Hobbs, USO Fort Bragg Center director.
Many Run for the Troops participants were activeA,Aduty military, retirees and Family members who had their own reasons for hitting the streets.
Matt Deakin, 16, and Adrian Moore, 16, of the Jack Britt High School track team said they came out to support the troops and their Family members who are serviceA,Amembers.
Carlos Mirodipini, 48, of Hubert, N.C. is a retired Marine who enjoyed the trip to Fayetteville for a good cause and to run for fun.
"I came to support the troops. My time was a couple minutes slower than last week because I pulled a muscle. All in all though, the course was great with nice scenery and a lot of motivating people. It was a great race," said Mirodipini.
For some runners, the race was a Family affair. Dads and moms pushed strollers while the children enjoyed the ride and picturesque scenery along the route. Other runA,Aners held tightly onto the leash of a variety of dogs who were more than excited to join in the fun.
Some runners chose to walk or run the race in honor and memory of servicemembers.
Following the race, the 82nd Airborne Division chorus enterA,Atained the crowd. Medals were preA,Asented by Miss USA North Carolina, Kristen Dalton of Wilmington, N.C. to participants who completed the race in the top three categories for their age group and division.
Organizers were surprised and thankful of the success of the event.
"All the hard work that everyone put into the race, our gracious staff, volunteers and sponsors made the event such a success. We could not have done it without their support. We will definitely hold a second annual Run for the Troops next year," said Hobbs.
The Fort Bragg USO opened in July 2008 and is located at Building M-4226 on Goldberg Street. For more information about the Fort Bragg USO and future events, call 495-1437 or go to