Team member Chuck McAllister said the reason for the involvement “is obvious.”
“You meet the people who come back, have given much more than I’ve ever had to, and you get a little teary-eyed thinking about it,” he said. “They’ve done so much for us. We really need to give back.”
Janie Ritchie of North Andover said her years as a Patriot Minuteman — one of the musket-firing New England Patriots fans who salute every scoring drive at Gillette Stadium — has exposed her to several soldiers being honored in pre-game ceremonies.
Many of them are injured, a few even working to cover wounds in the tunnel prior to hitting the field, she said.
“We meet a lot of the guys who come to the game, and every now and then you meet one who has a prosthetic leg on, or an arm,” Ritchie said. “We’re always seeing it up front, and you hear about it on TV, but when you see it, it’s different.”
Ritchie was one of the loudest participants at the race — her musket fire sent the runners off from the starting line just after 9 a.m.
“I didn’t do much. I went to the dinner and shot a gun,” she said. “But it’s nice to do a small thing, because if everybody does a small thing, look at this, it’s a big thing.”
That was also the show of support from the American Warrior Riding Platoon, whose motorcycles escorted runners along the race course from start to finish.
“Everybody who belongs to the group is either military or has family members who are military,” member Dan “Undertaker” Cotnoir said. “When you think about these guys that get injured in war — and we were lucky enough not to be — to do something to help them out is what we’re here for.”