For the past six years, the Race for a Soldier half marathon and 5K has stood out to South Sound and Gig Harbor residents and runners as an annual autumn marker and a way to connect soldiers and veterans with their surrounding community.
This year the Permission To Start Dreaming Foundation — which hosts both the run and annual Prayer Breakfast — added a new event this year as a way to attract more community members and provide another avenue for fundraising and community connections.
The Pull for a Soldier trap shooting event was held Sept. 15 at the Gig Harbor Sportsman Club in Gig Harbor.
Leslie Mayne, executive director and founder of the Permission To Start Dreaming Foundation, said that the idea for the event came from Scott Sabo, a foundation board member and the president and CEO of LaborWorks, which sponsored the event.
“The whole idea behind the foundation is to find a way to bring the community and military together,” Mayne said. “I think that when we have these kind of events, (people) get a chance to talk together. Something like this expands our reach a little bit.”
Mayne founded the Permission To Start Dreaming Foundation in 2011 to provide support and healing for soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, giving them hope for the future to overcome mental health issues surrounding those conditions.
The Pull for a Soldier event featured about 25 five-person teams shooting trap — clay targets shot from a machine — with shotguns to compete for prizes donated from the community. Participants included community members, members of the Sportsman club, veterans and active-duty military members, who either paid a participation fee or where sponsored by other individuals or businesses.
All funds from the event go back to the foundation and the programs it provides for soldiers and their families, said Andy Coster, the club’s event chair.
“This is to support the (foundation). It’s a great organization,” Coster said. “This is what the club’s here for, to support the community.”
Community support for the foundation and its events has been generous and overwhelming at times, said foundation president Rui Moura.
“We’re in awe. We keep asking for these things and people keep giving,” he said. “It’s been a real community event.”
The community has been supporting the foundation and the Race for a Soldier half marathon since the organization’s inception in 2011, and SAFE Boats has been involved since the beginning and has served as the race’s primary sponsor for the past two years, said Dennis Morris, SAFE Boats president and CEO.
“We try to engage in charitable events that support our end-user community,” Morris said. “I think this (event) is neat. It gives us a chance to bring in a different crowd of people.”
The sixth annual Race for a Soldier half marathon and 5K is set for 8 a.m. Sunday (Sept. 25), with registration for the event now available in person. Tickets are sold out for the sixth annual Prayer Breakfast, which will be held Friday morning (Sept. 23) in Gig Harbor.
Featured at this year’s breakfast is Robert Vera, best-selling author of “A Warrior’s Faith;” James Hatch, founder of Spikes K9 Fund and former Naval Special Warfare operator; and former Marine Corporal Jacob Schick, founder of 22Kill.
Additionally, the foundation will recognize Ryan Blanck of Hangar Clinic for his dedication and compassionate care of military members with his innovative device, IDEO, that has helped restore mobility to hundreds of injured soldiers.
Blanck’s IDEO brace — Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis — is a support device that helps support damaged lower limbs by providing static feedback and artificial force and propulsion. Blanck will be presented the American Citizen’s Heart Award by Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, the commanding general of I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, for his dedication to and care of the United States military for more than a decade.
“He’s really been a game-changer for thousands of people,” Mayne said of Blanck. “We thought it’d be a nice thing to inform our community of this man who is changing lives for our soldiers.”
Looking forward for the foundation, Mayne said that the next goal is hosting a retreat in the Pacific Northwest where combat veterans can go to relax and heal. The first retreat is already set for 2017.
“I think our community has an obligation to find ways to support (the military),” Mayne said. “We just need to bridge that gap a little bit.”
Race for a Soldier
Temporary road closures will be in place Sunday (Sept. 25) from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. to accomodate the run.
Affected roads include:
▪ Borgen Boulevard east of Olympus Way for duration of the race
▪ Peacock Hill Avenue south of 112th
▪ North Harborview Drive east of Peacock
▪ Vernhardsen east of North Harborview
Registration information for the Race for a Soldier half marathon and 5K can be found at raceforasoldier.org/home.