By Richard Campbell
Saturday morning was the coldest day of the year so far, but that did not prevent veterans, runners, and supporters from showing up bright and early to Castle Island to brave the weather to walk, ride, run, and roll to raise awareness and funds to benefit disabled veterans. The sponsoring non-profit organization, Disabled American Veterans supports over a million veterans with the mission to make sure no one who has served our country and suffered injuries is left behind. With so much lousy news lately, it was nice to see the spirit that motivated participants, sponsors, and loads of volunteers creating a safe and festive celebration of sport. It was a tad bit cold for taking pictures, with the wind chill putting Boston into negative numbers, but imagine the loop from Castle Island to City Point and back was pretty bone chilling. The Marines who showed up in shorts didn’t seem to mind.
Although everyone in attendance was a winner, Nick Ryan took first place in the Men’s division with at time of 17:18, and Caroline Shannon placed first in the Women’s Division at 20:31, in second place for the Men’s was Kyle Dalbec at 17:21, and second place in the Women’s Division was Sarah Graham at 20:35. The Third place finishers were close behind, as Gregory Dierksen came in at 17:29 for the Men, and Amy Wachler in third for the Women’s brought in a time of 20:59. The top ten runners all came in close behind, creating a consistent stream at the finish. In the hand crank wheel chair division, Jac McDonald (age 82!) took first place at 28:15, Followed by Tina Lavallee, coming in at 38:48, and James Tynan at 38:50. Given the weather, with cold and wind, these are particularly good times, and everyone seemed well prepared for the elements. The race had over 700 participants, so when you added well-wishers and volunteers, veterans and current service members, plus affiliated groups, the lawn of Fort Independence was quite full.
As with most veteran’s events there were plenty of young men and women from local ROTC groups to help out, present the colors, and cheer people on. The Boston Police Academy, and college ROTC groups showed in good numbers. The USAA supports the DAV group mission because it does much more than raise money, providing transportation, health care assistance, career development and employment services, and helping veterans secure the financial assistance they need to live productive lives. So when sponsors like WRKO ($90,642) and National Grid ($7.000) came bearing checks, people on stage were getting a warm feeling inside. Polaris, Cintas, TQL, Intel and Recruit Military, East Boston Savings Bank, and others added sponsorships. The Boston DAV group exceeded its goal of raising $130,000 by 20 grand. Local small businesses of all kinds got into the act, from Dough Boy Donuts, to Legal Seafood with free hot chowder, to Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar who provided an after race party with complimentary beers for veterans. Kudos to the Castle Island Association and the DCR for providing the space and helping run a smooth operation throughout the event!