Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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March 16, 2013

Race shows support, helps build home for injured veteran

When the starting gun fires and the runners start in April’s Run for the Troops, a five-kilometer run/walk, every foot hitting the asphalt will be helping to build a specially adapted home for a disabled Marine.

More than 2,000 runners are expected to turn out for the Run for the Troops on Sunday, April 7.

The Andover race, paired with a dinner event being scheduled for Friday, April 5 (see story, page S4), benefits Homes for Our Troops, a non-profit national organization that builds homes for veterans injured while serving our country.

This is the fourth year for the Run for the Troops in Andover. After paying for the events, money raised by the race and dinner this year will go towards building a home for Marine Cpl. Kevin Dubois, who was injured in 2011 while clearing a helicopter landing zone in Afghanistan (see story, page 3).

The events last year helped build a home for Marine Sgt. Josh Bouchard, who moved into his new home in Granby, Mass. this past January, according to event co-organizer Bill Pennington. The year before, the events supported Army Sgt. Joseph Smith and his new home in Thomasville, N.C.

But for Pennington, it isn’t about bringing in dollars for domiciles. It’s more about building memories and morale than anything, he said.

“How do you put a price-tag on when Josh Bouchard’s mother comes off the bus and sees what’s being done for her son?” Pennington said. “We hope to create these memories for the next Josh Bouchard, for Kevin, when his wife comes up to see what the Merrimack Valley is doing for her husband.”

“If we raised no money, and I saw and felt the gratitude from the soldiers... done deal,” he said. “I’d continue to do it.”

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