A nonprofit organization based in Wake Forest, North Carolina is holding a virtual run July 4th weekend to help raise awareness of the veteran suicide rate in our state.

The Joel Fund, an organization helping educate and engage veterans through community, planned its #Take5Save5 Virtual 5k to share the message that taking five minutes to reach out to veterans, learn the signs and symptoms of post traumatic stress and help spread the word could save five lives, the number of veterans North Carolina loses to suicide per week.

“Everything that we do is centered around getting veterans and their families involved in their communities and connected to their peers,” said Brooke Dickhart, founder of The Joel Fund. “The race is a great opportunity to get out and do something physical and honor our heroes over the Fourth of July weekend.”

Dickhart, who started the nonprofit in honor of her father, a Navy SEAL who lost his battle with PTSD in 2014, says you don’t have to sign up for the race as an individual. Groups and families are also encouraged to run or walk together to aid the cause.

Since COVID-19 has restricted The Joel Fund from in person gatherings they’ve taken to Zoom Video conferencing to hold virtual events, including art classes and Coffee Connections for veterans. Since transitioning services online, Dickhart has noticed many new students are from the Fort Bragg and Jacksonville areas.

“The great thing about Zoom is that people can still connect,” Dickhart said. “It’s live and they’re interacting.”

The Joel Fund also connects service members and their families to non-traditional services, like helping find housing, transportation, art and yoga classes or connecting them to other needed resources.

For more information on The Joel Fund and the #Take5Save5 Virtual 5k visit www.thejoelfund.org.