Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

February 27, 2014

Run for the Troops prepares for big field

New starting line for April 6 race

By Dustin Luca
dluca@andovertownsman.com

---- — As many as 3,000 runners are expected to race through Andover in early April for the 2014 Run for the Troops 5K.

Registration is now open for the fifth annual fundraiser on Sunday, April 6, that is bent on building homes for handicapped war veterans.

The biggest change that awaits past participants is a slightly different course iteration, co-organizer Bill Pennington said. The start line will now be set up toward the back of The Park near Whittier Court.

Pennington, who said the goal continues to be to improve the quality of the event every year, is anticipating a record field.

“The entries are at least twice as high as last year, same time, and I think that’s because of our success,” he said.

“People understand we’ve done well. We help build houses like we’ve said we’re going to do. The soldiers come back and people identify with the cause.”

Proceeds from the event support the nonprofit Homes For Our Troops, which builds specially designed homes for veterans injured while serving their country. This year, the organization is seeking to build a home for Army Staff Sgt. Matt Dewitt of Concord, N.H.

Already, three veterans — who are now reliant on wheelchairs — have received specially adapted homes in part due to Andover’s yearly support of the event. All three past recipients are expected to return to Andover for this year’s race in support of Dewitt, according to Pennington.

“They want to make sure other (soldiers) are taken care of, too,” he said. “That’s why they promote the cause. They’re not coming up to see me.”

In addition to the race, a fundraising dinner is planned for Friday. April 4, at the Wyndham Hotel on Old River Road.

Early race registration is $25 through tomorrow, Feb. 28. After tomorrow, the fee increases to $30. Tickets for the dinner are $25, with tables of 10 available for $250.

To register for the race, buy dinner tickets or for more information, visit www.runforthetroops5k.com.