Fifth annual Run Forrest Run race to support veterans
Cate Von Dohlen | Friday, March 29, 2019
The fifth annual Run Forrest Run 5/10K race to benefit the Gary Sinise Foundation (GSF) will commence Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in front of Hesburgh Library, where 900 American flags will be placed on the grass early Friday morning.
The event was started by Lauren McKee, class of 2018, her freshman year at Notre Dame. Senior Nathaniel Hanson, who directed the event this year, said he assisted McKee in organizing the event while he was a member of Air Force ROTC.
“Even though I am no longer in the Air Force, it made sense for me to carry over and make sure the event is a success,” Hanson said.
The race is supported by community members and volunteers from all three branches of ROTC at Notre Dame — Navy, Army and Air Force. It is the second biggest race on campus after the Holy Half Marathon in April.
McKee said they expect between 400 and 500 people by the time registration closes. Participants come from across the United States, the greater South Bend community and the Notre Dame community. It will probably be about two-thirds community members and one-third Notre Dame students, Hanson said.
Junior Michael Terranova, who is the assistant director of the event and a member of Navy ROTC, said one participant has dressed up as Forrest Gump every year since the birth of the event.
GSF is named after Sinise, who played Lieutenant Dan in “Forrest Gump,” and the foundation supports defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need. The funds raised specifically at the run will benefit the Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment program which builds custom homes to fit the needs of wounded veterans and their families.
“They call these smart homes,” Terranova said. “They make it easier for [veterans] to live.”
Donations come from individuals, teams and those participating in a virtual race. Even if people can’t make it to campus, they can sign up and run in their own time “for the real lieutenant Dan’s,” Hanson said. The combined funds raised in the past four years total to $57,000, but this year, Hanson and Terranova said they hope to receive $50,000.
The guest speaker for this year’s event is Army major Jeremy Haynes. Haynes was shot four times, including once in his back, while serving in Afghanistan, Hanson said, and Haynes faced a long and painful recovery.
“He is a continual testament to the human spirit. He continues to show that it is very possible to defy your doctors if you have the willpower,” Hanson said.
Both Hanson and Terranova said the event is important to supporting veterans.
“Without events like Run Forrest Run, without the Gary Sinise Foundation, a lot of veterans might find themselves in the position where they don’t have the money to deal with what happened to them during our wars,” Terranova said. “The least we can do is help them in any way possible to thank them for what they did for us and make sure that their quality of life, now that they are back home, is good. I think events like this are important to keep our veterans in the nation’s consciousness and memory.”
Hanson said Notre Dame students should come out and run the race.
“This is a truly good and admirable cause,” he said. “Thank your veterans for their service.”