Hundreds of people walked, ran, and hand-cycled their way to the finish line this weekend to raise money for a cause that's close to their hearts: a new rehabilitation program for veterans. And as our Cara Thomas tells us, both runners and organizers were overwhelmed by the turn out.
MARCY, N.Y. -- Some participated in honor of loved ones.
"We're running in memory of my brother who was a sergeant in the US Army," says Katy Guardi. She ran in honor of Sergeant Evan Guardi.
Wendy Moody, ran in honor of her son, Spc. Shane Moody. She said, "My son is in Afghanistan he's in the army. So I'm here to support him and all the wonderful troops."
Others, participated for themselves and their brothers and sisters in the armed forces.
Col. Russell Zelman is an Army veteran. He said, "The hand-cycle took me out of the doldrums of depression and it was really an enlightening thing to have happen because there were no other sports I could participate in.
But, no matter their personal motivation, everyone came to the first annual Stars and Stripes Run/Walk Event for one reason: to raise money for a new Military Rehabilitation program and the construction of a new serene rehab center for Sitrin, a local health care provider.
Rosemary Bonacci, Sitrin's Vice President of Development and Communications, said, "With this younger generation of wounded warriors coming back, the men and women, who have post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, it was just a perfect blend for us to reach out and to develop a program geared for their needs."
According to Sitrin officials, the goal for this new rehabilitation center is to offer numerous types of therapy for all veterans, no matter their financial situation.
"What we're trying to do is get our wounded warriors reunited with their communities, rebuilding their lives, helping them seek employment and just getting them from a combat situation back into a regular routine again," noted Bonacci.
Another Army veteran, Freddy Crutz added, "There's a lot of vets out there that people don't know about, like in the closet. Let's bring them out of the closets you know and show them they're worth while human being still even if they have disabilities today."
Organizers said the level of participation exceeded their expectations. In the end, more than 500 people took part and they far surpassed their 30 thousand dollar goal.
Sitrin representatives said their new military rehabilitation program will be unique. It will combine adaptive sports, massage therapy, equine assisted therapy and psychological services with traditional therapies. Sitrin said the cost to get this new program and facility started is about $5 million.