Registration open, sponsorships available for Run for the Troops 5K

Photos/Reba SaldanhaSusan Macleod of Andover nears the finish line of the Run for the Troops. Macleod finished second overall in the women’s race.

U.S. Marine Cpl. Roger Rua, of Cheshire, Conn., was serving with the Security Platoon attached to the 9th Engineer Support Battalion on March 29, 2012 in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was in drove over an IED, or Improvised Explosive Device.

When the bomb went off, Rua suffered spine, femur and sternum fractures, as well as a traumatic brain injury.

Originally paralyzed from the chest down, doctors were unsure if he would walk again. But Rua proved them wrong, and was up and walking with the assistance of a cane within a matter of months, thanks to physical therapy and support from his friends and family.

Rua is about to be the beneficiary of even more support as the national organization Homes for Our Troops is getting ready to build him an adaptive house, as they are called, uniquely designed and built to make it easier for injured veterans to move around at home. His current domicile, he said in a video on the Run for the Troops website, has lots of stairs, thresholds in the doorways, and even a small step to get into the shower.

The new home will do away with all that, making living easier by having the living space on a single floor, with grab bars in strategic locations and even a bench in the shower.

The donations for Rua will also help to eliminate the financial burden of a mortgage and allow him to focus on his education, as he is studying national security at the University of New Haven.

Locally, the Homes for Our Troops fund-raising effort will be augmented by the 7th annual Run for Our Troops 5K, managed by local race organizer and veterans affairs supporter Bill Pennington.

Last year, the race had 3,500 runners registered, although far fewer showed up because of inclement weather. This year, Pennington expects a better turnout and more people — an estimated 5,000 — to sign up for the race.

“There are several reasons why the event continues to grow," Pennington said. "First of all is the cause: people love to support the military. Secondly are the beneficiaries: all of them directly benefit from the funds generated by Run for the Troops 5K and people can witness the impact of their support. Like Homes for our Troops [which] has built several houses for the soldiers that are in attendance at the events.”

The two-day event, to be held this year on April 21 and 23, also drums up donations for other organizations that assist veterans, including Ironstone Farm and Brides Across America, both in Andover, and the Fisher House, an organization based in Dedham.

The weekend event includes an opening dinner and silent auction on April 21 which will feature guest speaker Cpl. Chris Montgomery. Montgomery lost both legs during his third deployment in Iraq and will be receiving a specialized wheelchair that will allow him to participate in races.

The race will take place on April 23 at 9 a.m. It includes a pancake breakfast at the Punchard Senior Center from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at a cost of just $5 per person.

The race will be preceded by a flyover and color guard, as well as a bag pipe band at the opening ceremony. It will begin on the fork between Whittier Street and Whittier Court and will end on Bartlet Street. Registration is open to the public.

For more information, please visit the website:



If you run

What: Run for the Troops 5K

When: April 23, starts at 9 a.m. 

Where: Town Offices, 36 Bartlet St., Andover

Why: Race proceeds go toward charities that help veterans, mostly Homes for Our Troops

Cost: $27 to race; $5 for pancake breakfast.

For more information, please visit the website:



If you go to charity dinner

What: Charity dinner, includes cash bar, silent auction, entertainment, color guard and special guests of honor procession, buffet dinner, guest speaker.

Where: Andover Country Club, 60 Canterbury St., Andover

When: April 21, 6:30 to 10 p.m.

Cost: $40 per person; $400 per table.

For more information, please visit the website:


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