Community supports Warriors at Sunset Run (Slideshow)
The following photos were taken by Editor of the Shelton Herald, Aaron Berkowitz. If you would like one of the photos email Editor@SheltonHerald.com
The Shelton community gathered at the Huntington Green to participate in and watch the 8th annual Sunset Run for the Warriors this past weekend.
The tradition of the race began 12 years ago and took place across the state. Since then, it was “resurrected” under new leadership of the Reh family back in 2009 and brought back to Shelton, according to participant in this year’s 5K race (and the city’s Mayor) Mark Lauretti.
The purpose of the run was to provide soldiers that were injured overseas a proper homecoming, but now the purpose has evolved into a way to help bridge the divide between the community and the military, according to one of its organizers, John Rey.
Each year, hundreds of people have come out to participate in the different length races ranging from the 10K, 5K and a 1-mile run. There is even a shorter race designed for children. Adults and kids of all ages came out to participate for the cause.
Participants in each race came from all over the state. Some people participated for personal reasons and others for the opportunity to compete.
“Today, I got to see my father participate in something amazing. I know he was excited about running because he says it is for a great cause. He has a lot of friends in the service,” said Jacob Smith of Shelton.
Stephanie Shaughnessy, of New Fairfield, said the Sunset Run 5K race was her second race of the day. Shaughnessy explained that she came as a part of a group whose goal is to run races in all of Connecticut’s 169 towns.
“This was next on my list,” said Shaughnessy. “There weren’t many hills in this course so it wasn’t that bad.”
Many participants brought along their families and friends to cheer them on.
“I am so proud of my wife today. She has prepared for this run by doing workouts and constantly challenging herself,” says Tim Tomasy.
For the people that came as spectators, there was live music played by the Tony Ferrigno Band, a moon bounce to play on, and an ice cream truck that was stationed on the green.
The Reh family is still a big part of the event and actively participate in the runs as well.
The event’s staff said they all firmly believe in the purpose of the event.
“Our motto for the organization is self, family, and hope,” says Steve Bartomioli, Senior Director of Sports & Recreation of Hope for the Warriors.
2017 Sunset Run
Just before the opening ceremony, many groups of family and friends could be seen stretching and there was even a group of friends wearing tutus in different colors.
Lauretti said he runs in as many community races as possible and addressed the crowd before the commencement of the first race.
“It’s an honor for me to participate in this event each year to recognize the service of these brave men and women that keep our country safe,” said Lauretti. “I used to compete for the top spot in this race, but I want you to know that I’m nursing a bad back so my goal is to finish.”
Tyler Pino is a student at Shelton High School who said this was his first year participating in a race at the event and he had been mentally preparing himself for days prior.
“You definitely need a race strategy,” said Pino. “It’s important to pace yourself so that you don’t burn yourself out early on.”
John Reh said the kids that participated in a race all would receive a complimentary WIFFLE bat from one of the event’s sponsors, the WIFFLE Ball Inc.
Hope for the Warriors
The annual Sunset Run for the Warriors is one of many events held across the country by the Hope for the Warriors organization and its staff said it holds the same values as the Reh family.
Within the organization, there are other forms of help that can be provided such as clinical health and wellness, transition services, community development, and engagement, along with sports and recreation.
All of the proceeds that are made from the races all go to benefit wounded warriors and their families through the many Hope for the Warriors programs.