Many will turn their Saturday morning workout into support for the hundreds of thousands of troops deployed all over the world, without ever leaving campus.
The Residence Hall Association (RHA) will sponsor the first annual Saturday of Support this weekend, a 5K-race fundraiser for troops overseas.
The day will start off with pre-registration at 8 a.m., and then a TAPS performance by the Denver Chapter of the GI Forum, the second largest veteran society in the U.S. These events will be followed by a color guard presentation by the forum and CSU’s Air Force ROTC. The race will then kick off from the Oval.
“We want to show the troops that people in America do support them,” Ashley Baker, a sophomore music education major and member of the RHA community service committee, said. “We’re not coming from the pro-war perspective, but the pro-fellow-American perspective.”
Baker’s father, a retired captain from the Navy and current inspector for the Department of Defense in Washington D.C., will speak before the race.
The race will be officially timed by Foot of the Rockies, Northern Colorado’s race headquarters, and winner recognition will be broken down by age group.
The pre-registration fee is $15, or runners can sign up the day of the race for $18. Between 100 and 200 runners are expected, and the RHA hopes to earn $2000, which will go entirely to Operation Gratitude, a volunteer organization that sends care packages to troops from each branch of the military outside of the U.S., including Iraq.
“Each runner is essentially donating themselves because all the money is going directly to the troops,” Jesse Lyons, freshman speech communications major and RHA member, said. “We wanted an unconventional idea. It’s different and totally original.”
Operation Gratitude’s packages contain food, toiletries, entertainment items, personal letters and are “wrapped with good wishes of love and support,” according to their mission statement. They also accept donations.
For some of the committee members, the “support the troops” theme really hits home.
“I know a lot of people over there, including my dad, and they just don’t have the backing,” Kaylie Monaghan, a freshman biomedical science major and RHA member, said. “Many of them are really bored, and not just in Iraq.”
Monaghan believes supporting the troops is especially important among college age students.
“The people overseas are our age,” she said. “They’re people we went to school with.”
Monoghan already saw the benefits of Saturday of Support. While passing put flyers on the plaza, she was approached and thanked by a student who’s being shipped out to Iraq in two weeks.
“It’s hard for them to go away for a whole year and wonder if people are even thinking of them,” she said.
Baker encourages all to participate, regardless of one’s opinion of the war.
“The race is a way for Americans to show support for each other. It’s a healthy way to be active in the community,” Baker said.