By Kirstin Grace-Simons, PHC-P Public AffairsJuly 10, 2017
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, WASHINGTON - - The sun was shining and the dogs were ready to run. Over 80 participants registered and took part in the first Get Fit with Fido 5K Fun Run/Walk hosted by Public Health Activity-Fort Lewis (PHA-FL).
Capt. Austin Leedy, First Year Graduate Veterinary Education (FYGVE) program intern, organized the event that is set to become an annual fixture on the Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) calendar. Working with MWR to coordinate the logistics -- from site to sponsors to registration and medals -- took months of planning and effort. But, as PHA-FL Commander, Lt. Col. Ronald Burke proclaimed as he presented Leedy an award during the unit's organization day festivities, "She set the unit up well for future success with this event."
The FYGVE program provides a year of focused activities that introduces a newly minted veterinarian to the officer's role in the Army Veterinary Corps and unit leadership. This event is one of Leedy's large scale projects. She was supported throughout the process by her fellow FYGVE interns, soldiers and civilians in her unit, and especially her FYGVE leadership which includes Burke, Maj. M. Todd French and Maj. Kimberly Yore. Leedy is also working on an event slated for September where participants will be able to swim with their dogs.
The fun run followed a 5K course laid out around the heart of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Soldiers from PHA-FL fell in at 6 a.m. to set up the chosen area with information booths, sponsors, and prize booths and to staff the course itself. As the 9 a.m. race start time approached, the unit's cadre donned reflective vests and grabbed orange flags and fanned out across the route. They waved and cheered the participants along and kept the light weekend morning traffic at bay.
As this event was fairly low on competitive fire and high on light-spirited fun, everyone crossed the finish line to receive a medal and a round of applause. Many participants were awarded their medals by the unit commander's preschool aged son. Some of the dogs were less than appreciative of young Gregory's attempts to celebrate their accomplishment.
Dogs of all sizes and breeds joined their family for the event. While some entrants assumed a sharp clip, many others took a leisurely pace and enjoyed the sunny morning with their family, both two- and four-legged. Some of the smaller dogs came across the finish line in a family member's arms. Most animals, though, led their humans with an exuberant bounce in their stride across the line.
Even the corgi, a rescue animal that accompanied its human mom along the route, finished the event under its own steam. A number of participants got into the spirit by dressing up. Some chose tutus, others were outfitted as superheroes, including their pups, of course. These participants drew extra attention, but it is likely the fact that so many kids came out to run the route that heartened the organizers the most.
Involving the whole family in the exercise component of the performance triad was also a part of the spirit of the fun run. Making the components of the performance triad a regular part of a family's life and schedule when kids are young, helps those values become an ingrained part of their lifestyle.
Following the run, raffle prizes were awarded to participants. Participants who did not have a chance to visit the veterinary center's information booths before the race, took the opportunity afterward.
While noshing on bagels and sipping juice as a post-race refresher, attendees learned about dog bite prevention and rabies awareness, the Yellow Ribbon Project- informing that dogs wearing a yellow ribbon signifies that they need extra space, as well as general pet care and services offered at the veterinary center on McChord.