Run for the Warriors encourages remembrance, progress - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

Run for the Warriors encourages remembrance, progress

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Posted: Monday, April 8, 2019 11:32 am

On a Saturday in April that was hazy without being humid, runners from all corners of the Jacksonville, Onslow County and Camp Lejeune community assembled at the Jacksonville Train Depot on Court Street for the 14th annual Run for the Warriors.

Casual and competitive runners as well as adaptive cyclists were given a chance to test themselves in courses ranging from 5K to half marathon. A “first mile” symbolizing the first steps recovering veterans and active-duty service members take following injury was also incorporated.

Along the sides of the trail marking that first mile were signs showing fallen service members. Small American flags were also available to be carried during the run. Attached to the flags were bands bearing the names of others who had fallen in service to the country.

Robyn Womac, Run for the Warriors director, said Saturday’s run was one of the organization’s biggest.

“We had a fantastic turnout. There were a lot more runners than anticipated,” Womac said. “We’re glad to have amazing support from the entire community. Thanks to the police department for keeping everyone safe. Our EMTs were on today.”

A brief incident involving an adaptive cycle crash drew some attention from emergency service personnel, but those involved were safe.

“It was overall pretty uneventful for us,” said Jacksonville Police Department Lt. Sean P. Magill. “That’s a good thing.”

A medley of the Carolina coast’s finest volunteered at the event. Kappa Delta Pi honor students from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington operated information booths, while course marshals representing Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s Single Marine Program (SMP) cheered on and helped direct those navigating the course.

Bright Baafi, a Marine Corps poolee who is set to leave for boot camp in the coming weeks, was among the volunteers at the event. He said the turnout as well as the tenacity of the runners and cyclists inspired him.

“It’s amazing. Seeing them run motivates me,” Baafi said.

Among those persistent participants was Luis Quinones, who served 13 years in the Marine Corps. At the Run for the Warriors, he took third place in the men’s adaptive cycling half marathon.

“It’s amazing — all the support, all the help. None of this happens without the community,” Quinones said. “I wouldn’t have made it without the guys out there telling us where to turn and giving out water.”

Among the faces marking that first mile were Cpl. Bryant Jahrries and Cpl. Binh Le, both Marines who served with Quinones.

“Those are a little special,” Quinones said. “Those are my guys.”

Quinones was one of many adaptive athletes who participated in the event.

“We had to set aside parking just for adaptive athletes,” Womac said. “That’s new. We had people from SOCOM (Special Operation Command), Marines, Sailors and community organizations like Ainsley’s Angels coming to participate. … I can’t thank the city enough.”

The day was about moving forward to overcome adversity while remembering those who sacrificed along the way. For runners, volunteers and spectators alike, there was motion. Where there was motion, progress. With that progress comes hope.

For more information about Hope for the Warriors, visit www.hopeforthewarriors.org/.

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