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According to American Legion Post 442 Commander Matt Barber, the goal of the race is to raise awareness about veteran suicide and to raise funds to support programs designed to prevent suicide, which takes the lives of 22 veterans a day on average.
Barber said that the event has grown from a simple race, to an all-day community celebration.
“It’s steamrolled from ‘let’s have a race,’ to an all-day function,” Barber said.
Barber said that he sees the event as a good way for Winchester’s veterans’ organizations to give back to the community.
“The community has stepped up to help the VFW and the Legion,” Barber said. “We don’t have a way to give back monetarily. This event seemed like a good way to give back.”
The day, Barber said, will be comprised of many activities for all ages on Winchester’s square.
“The Odd Fellows will have a bags tournament at 2 p.m.,” Barber said. “The Winchester Pageant is at 1 p.m., with the crowning at 6 p.m. There will be food at lunch and dinner. It’s kind of an all-day affair, with a bounce house and vendors.”
In addition, Barber said there will be live music starting at 7 p.m.
“Isaiah Littig’s band, Isaiah Christian and the Revel Saints are playing,” Barber said.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from race participants, who will choose to either bike, run, or walk, will be contributed to organizations that raise awareness and combat suicide. Veterans are also taking on the task of ruck marching along the race routes. This task by the veterans will serve as a symbolic gesture of the weight of war carried by veterans into civilian life.
A goal of the race’s fundraising is to establish programs in our local schools to teach students, teachers and administrators the warning signs of suicide, how to begin the conversation of suicide prevention, and where to go for support to prevent suicide.
A portion of the funds raised will also go to the Winchester American Legion building fund. According to Barber, the Legion Hall has long been a place for local veterans to gather in camaraderie, talk about these types of issues, and where support for each other along with organizing of community events takes place.
To date, Barber said approximately 80 participants are signed up for the race.
Barber cautioned racers and motorists to use caution during the event, which kicks off at 8:05 a.m. on the Aug. 21.
“We’ll be on Old 36 and the Glasgow Blacktop,” Barber said. “Be safe. Law enforcement will be there, too, to keep everyone safe.”