John Reh’s memories of his Shelton childhood, and his commitment to the military, have combined in an event that’s now part of the summer landscape.
Reh is the race director for the fifth annual Sunset Run for the Warriors slated for Sunday, Aug. 17, at the Huntington Green.
The Shelton race is one of 10 nationwide that’s dedicated to service men and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Hope for the Warriors.
The nonprofit organization works to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.
“I first ran the Shelton Sunset Road race with my family in 1984 as a nine-year-old,” Reh said. “Together, we ran the Sunset many times over the years until the race was discontinued in the late 90s.
“When I got out of the Marine Corps in 2006,” he said. “I started volunteering with Hope for the Warriors and helped to start the Run for the Warriors race series.”
When he was in Shelton one summer, Reh said he met with city officials, including Mayor Mark Lauretti, Alderman John Papa, and Parks and Recreation Director Ron Herrick.
“I pitched the idea of bringing the Run for the Warriors race series to Shelton while simultaneously resurrecting the Sunset Race,” Reh said. “They enthusiastically agreed.”
Helping the wounded
Megan Reh, John’s wife, serves as race captain for Shelton’s Sunset Run. The Rehs and their four children live in Madison.
“I’m definitely excited about the wonderful event,” Megan Reh said. “I’m so proud to support Hope for the Warriors.”
The organization “covers every need of wounded service members,” said Megan Reh, including medical care and clinical needs, psychological and social work assistance, job training and education for those transitioning to civilian life.
The group also helps to reintroduce sports and hobbies into the lives of wounded service members and to foster understanding and respect for the needs of local military families.
Reh’s husband, who served in Afghanistan in 2005, connected to the group at a racing event. “He was impressed with the work they do,” Megan said.
Four options for participants
Shelton’s Sunset Run features a 10K, 5K and one-mile walk, and John Reh has designed the courses.
The event starts off with an opening ceremony at 4:30 p.m., featuring military honors, recognition of Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty, and a presentation of the colors.
A “Kids’ Run Around the Green” follows, and the races start at about 5 at the Green, where the race courses also end.
Local veterans groups and school sports teams will participate, and a wounded warrior will speak.
Food, live music, children’s activities
Megan Reh urges runners and non-runners of all ages to come “have a burger and listen to music,” noting the event includes inflatables for children and traditionally “gets everyone out.”
The local band Straight Jacket will perform, and vendors will serve post-race food to the participants, while other vendors will sell food to the public. A portion of the food sales will benefit Hope for the Warriors.
The event usually winds down around 7:30 p.m.
Funds for Hope for the Warriors are raised through general race registration, at a cost of $20 per runner and $10 for those participating in the “kids” race, and there is special pricing for veterans and active duty service members.
Many individuals and local businesses make donations, Reh said. “We have tremendous support from local sponsors,” she said.
How to register
People may register for the race as individuals or teams, and pre-registration is open online at hopeforthewarriors.org/2014SunsetRun.
To donate, visit the website or email Megan Reh at email@example.com.
People may also register the day of the race at 2 p.m. at the Green.
As Reh and her husband plan the event, they continue to express their admiration for the organization that stands behind their efforts. “I can’t possibly be more proud of Hope for the Warriors and the work they do,” Megan Reh said.
And she’s looking forward to the Sunset Run for the Warriors in Shelton. “I think this is going to be fantastic,” she said.