GREENVILLE — Eighty-three of the 100 people who signed up participated Saturday morning in the 3.1-mile course at Thank A Vet 5k Run/Walk.
The second annual event, commemorating the 75th anniversary of World War II, was held solely at the Darke County Fairgrounds. It began and ended at the Veterans Building.
The goal of the hosts and sponsors — hosts Fort GreeneVille Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR and sponsors Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7262, Post 7262 Men’s Auxiliary, Post 7262 Auxiliary, Post 7262 Boosters and Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 57 — was to to raise enough money to sponsor a Service Dog for a Veteran through Angel PAWS.
Chris Nehrig, veteran and coordinator of the event, said Angel PAWS is an organization that trains rescue dogs to help change the lives of veterans who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and physical disabilities.
Three of the service dogs were at the event; one with Jerry Bortner of Darke County and two escorting veterans coming from the Brookville area.
State Rep. Jim Buchy welcomed everyone at the opening ceremony, during which World war II veterans in attendance received certificates. They were Dale Marker, Tom Whitton and Dwight Emmons.
“It is fitting to have this today on the Armed Forces Day,” said Buchy. “It’s a real tribute to our veterans. We appreciate everything you do to support this cause. The weather is especially nice for running.”
He introduced Bortner and he also introduced Gretchen Hawk of the WACO Museum, who is the daughter of Marilyn and the late Dick Graeff.
Just prior to the opening ceremonies, the American Legion Post 140’s Honor Guard performed. Singing the National Anthem was Shelly Sander.
People participating had the option to run, walk or jog. Animals were even allowed to take part.
Sandra L. Bohle of Celina, who created Angel PAWS three years ago, was unable to attend the event.
“Our highly-trained dogs can make a significant difference in the lives of veterans who have given so much to us,” said Bohle in an earlier interview. “Dogs affect veterans with PTSD in a profoundly positive way. This is why sponsors are important. Angels for Veterans invites you to help change a life by becoming a sponsor today. Let the healing begin for those who risk their lives for us.””
These service dogs, Bohle said, are welcomed full public access. They are trained for each veteran’s unique need.
Bohle stressed that a person has to be a veteran to receive a dog.
“The dogs are a gift to the veterans,” she said. “We raise money to pay for the dogs. We go to events, put on events, create raffles and have golf outings, eating contests and runs. We are always reaching for donations. We are looking to develop sponsorships from $,1000 upwards, but any donation is welcome.”
Bortner, a former Darke County Sheriff’s deputy, received his male dog two years ago on Labor Day.
“He’s terrific…wonderful,” said Bortner, who served in Vietnam for 13 months from 1967-68.
Prizes were given out to runners and door prizes were held at the conclusion of the event.
Bill Roy was the fastest runner of the males; Natalie Oliver was the first female to cross the finish line; and Nehrig was the fastest veteran.
Good Times Events Services provided the sound for the day.
“This is the first time we’ve officiated this event,” said Tyler Myers of Good Times.
Those wanting an Angel PAWS dog can apply to Angels for Veterans, P.O. Box 611, Celina, OH 45822 or [email protected]. All proceeds go to Angel PAWS, the service dog program under Angels for Veterans, which can be found at www.angelsforveterans.org