Running for a cause

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Participants for DAV5K
Participants in the DAV 5K have the option to run with “honor bibs” displaying the name and service information of a loved one who served.

Cold weather doesn’t stop Cincinnati from honoring veterans at DAV 5K

Temperatures dropped to the low 20s on the morning of Nov. 9 in Cincinnati, but along the banks of the Ohio River, nearly 2,500 individuals shrugged off the cold so they could take part in a celebration to honor veterans.

The DAV 5K—dubbed the “Run to Honor Veterans”—is a walk, roll, run and ride that thanks those who served and raises awareness of the issues our ill and injured veterans face every day.

It was an emotional day for Julie Shields, a first-time 5K participant and Cincinnati native, who came to honor a loved one lost just months earlier.

“My purpose for running in the 5K was to honor my dad, who just died on Memorial Day weekend,” Shields said. “This was the first Veterans Day I could not call him and thank him for his service.”

Shields’ father, Howard Hock, served in the Navy from 1948 to 1957. But he wasn’t the only veteran she set out to honor at the race.

Julie Shields Photo
Julie Shields ran to honor her father, Howard Hock, who served in the Navy, and her brother-in-law, Tim Shields, who served in the Army. Sadly, this was Julie’s first Veterans Day without her father, who passed away earlier in the year. “This was the first Veterans Day I could not call him and thank him for his service,” Shields said.

“I also wanted to run in memory of my husband’s brother, Tim Shields, who dedicated his life to the Army,” she said. “He was in the Army for 25 years. He served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. God bless his heart. He saw combat in Baghdad, Ramadi and Fallujah.”

Shields pinned photos of both to her shirt to honor their service and sacrifice.

“I was thinking about the holidays and how many my brother-in-law missed being away from his family,” Shields said. “He was deployed so many times between 2003 and 2008. So much sacrifice.”

“As we all saw here today, this race means so much to so many, and when we come together and unite for a common purpose, amazing things can happen,” said National Adjutant Marc Burgess. “I’d like to stress that every participant, volunteer and sponsor involved helped advance the cause of fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served, and they should all be proud of that fact.”

Presenting sponsors USAA and EG America played a significant role in making the event happen.

“USAA is proud to continue our support of the men and women who have sacrificed so much to defend our nation,” said USAA affinity account manager J.D. Thornock, a Marine veteran. “At USAA, we embody the same core values as DAV, so what better relationship than USAA and DAV working together? For us, it’s an honor to be here and be a part of it as a sponsor.”

“We know many of our associates and customers are veterans and believe it is important to recognize and give back to those who have served our country,” said Jay Erickson, president of EG America.

“My impressions of the 5K were wonderful,” Shields said. “The thing that impressed me the most was all of the military personnel who attended the event, and I loved the motorcycles that started the race and cheered us on. It is a great way to honor and support our veterans at the same time.

“They will always have a special place in my heart,” Shields added.

For more information, visit dav5k.org.