Navy ROTC hosts veterans 5K run

Tom Moran

The University campus briefly became a racetrack for the Navy ROTC’s 5K run Saturday morning.

More than 100 participants dashed off at 10 a.m. to a gun shot at the fifth-annual Veteran’s Appreciation Run/Walk. Racers made two laps from Morrill Hall, across the Washington Avenue Bridge and around the West Bank campus.

The race was a fundraiser for the Navy ROTC and the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

While most of the crowd separated quickly, the Navy ROTC midshipmen jogged in step, singing a cadence named “Back in 1775” as they jogged.

“First there came the color gold/To show the world that we are bold/Then there came the color red/To show the world the blood we shed,” was chanted in unison.

Sam Brogger, an officer candidate and political science junior, coordinated the event. She said it started as a Sept. 11 commemorative race in 2002, and this year saw a larger turnout than normal.

“This was a huge success. I couldn’t be happier,” Brogger said.

After 2002, the focus of the race changed to supporting veterans, she said.

Morgan Hennessy, a psychology and sociology sophomore, is a National Guard member who returned from Iraq in July. After the race, she said she was glad to see support for the ROTC and veterans.

“I try to participate and support my fellow veterans,” Hennessy said.

Hennessy said she raced with a friend she met at the Veterans Transition Center as a way to raise awareness of student veterans on campus. People need to change their perception of veterans to include the numerous college-aged students returning from Iraq, she said.

The Veterans Transition Center is a resource center for student veterans. They offer academic assistance and and career development, and encourage social networking.

Participants of the run ranged widely, including both soldiers and civilians.

Mike Hutton, 17, won the race with a time of 17 minutes and 17 seconds. He said he decided to race after his brother, a student in Navy ROTC, convinced the Apple Valley High School track member to participate.

Tim Thoele, 52, was one of the older contestants. His University first-year daughter, Eleanore Thoele, persuaded him to run his first race ever.

“At first it was a little intimidating running with the young guys, but then it wasn’t too bad,” Thoele said.

Ralph Heussner, the public affairs officer for the medical center, said the VA hospital treats patients from two-thirds of Minnesota, and western Wisconsin. The hospital cares for an average of 206 patients each day, he said.

According to the hospital’s Web site, more than 733 University students, residents and interns are trained there every year.

The event ended on a high note. The tired racers gathered tightly around the campus Armoryon campus as prizes were raffled off.

Cecilia Aldarondo, a graduate student in cultural studies and comparative literature, went home smiling. She won the grand prize – a whirlpool bath suite at Grand Casino.