Close to 200 people were running, jogging or simply walking at Baldwin Park on Saturday to show their support for veterans.
Assemblyman Brian Curran held his annual 5K Run For Heroes, inviting residents from each of his 21st District communities to participate. The run’s proceeds went to the American Legion posts in Baldwin, Freeport, Lynbrook, Malverne and Rockville Centre, and to the East Rockaway and Lynbrook VFWs.
“Don’t stand with our veterans, run for them!” was the slogan for this year’s event, according to Curran, who added that he’s been a supporter of veterans’ issues for as long as he can remember.
“Veterans have always been a purpose for me,” Curran said. “You can never appreciate all of the service and sacrifice that they did.”
Curran has a son who attends West Point so the assemblyman said he understands the importance of taking care of veterans. He added that communities should continue to provide local homes for veterans to gather, have a good time with one another, and to feel comfortable. The 5K was a way to make sure those houses and organizations stay open, he said.
“Back in 2010, when I got elected, a lot of the veteran posts in the district were saying how they used to get an influx of grant money and full federal and state money to help keep their doors open,” Curran said. “All of these posts have the very same expenses, such as electric, plumbing, maintenance, and they weren’t able to keep up with it.”
Three veterans’ buildings have closed since 2010 because of financial issues, which is why, in 2011, Curran said he decided to start a run to support these houses.
“The way that this 5K works is that each participating house gains sponsors, where if they pick up the sponsors, they get to keep all the sponsorship money,” Curran said. “And then all the money is pooled amongst all of the houses at the end of the race with regards to the runner fees that come in the day of the race.”
The pooled money is then distributed equally throughout all the participating veterans’ buildings. Curran explained that some houses, such as in Lynbrook, do better than others. Veterans’ houses in smaller areas like East Rockaway and Baldwin don’t do as well. However, each house gets some money from the run.
Funding for the event also helps cover the cost of banners and medals for the winners. Each participating community usually raises anywhere from $5,000 to more than $10,000 for the veterans’ homes.
Curran pointed out that Vanta is one of the main sponsors of the event, hosting three of the races, as well as helping to provide food for the event.
“We have fun doing this event and the veterans really appreciate it,” Curran said.
Curran mentioned other ways that people can support veterans throughout the year. He said that they could participate in Veteran Stand Down, which is a one- to three-day event, during which people provide homeless veterans with supplies and services, including food, shelter, clothing and health screenings. Curran also urged his constituents to be very vocal in support of veterans’ issues.
“The percentage of veterans that are homeless is astounding and horrific at the same time, that somebody who served this country is out on the street,” Curran said. “So there are a lot of different ways that people can help our veterans and service members, and this run is just one of those ways.”