A brisk, cold morning on Nov. 9 did not deter more than 2,500 participants from taking part in DAV’s inaugural 5K Walk, Run or Ride, held in downtown Cincinnati. The event began with longtime DAV supporter Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000, singing the National Anthem prior to the starter’s pistol being fired.
After the participating motorcycles, led by Past National Commander Rob Reynolds, roared by, the handcyclists left the starting line, followed shortly by the runners and walkers. Along the route, each branch of service was represented with a band playing their individual service song.
The event concluded with an awards ceremony for the individual race winners, where Past National Commander Richard Marbes, who started the course as a single-leg amputee, reminded everyone that events honoring veterans and their families are much bigger than individual achievements.
“While we’re only giving out a few awards this morning, let me stress that every participant and volunteer here today has helped advance the cause of fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served,” said Marbes. “You should all be proud of that fact.”
National Commander Joseph Johnston thanked the assembled crowd for demonstrating their commitment to veterans’ causes and encouraged communities to volunteer and stay involved. He told the crowd that in 1920, Robert Marx, a Cincinnati judge and legal scholar, led a number of prominent veterans from Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana to band together and begin a movement to remind America that fulfilling its promises to men and women who’ve served was, and still is, the right thing to do.
“The decision to wear the nation’s uniform is the greatest commitment to our country and your community that anyone can make,” said Johnston. “By participating in this 5K event, you’ve actively lent your support to our nation’s veterans, and I truly thank you for that.”
According to National Adjutant Marc Burgess, the pilot event proved successful in many ways. “There is an energy that goes with an event like this. It’s a way for the public to experience DAV and show their commitment to our cause,” said Burgess. “We will look at ways we can expand the event beyond Cincinnati and hope this new institutional knowledge can be shared with our Departments nationwide.