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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
The Winchester VFW and American Legion are partnering to host their second annual “Race With Veterans” event on Saturday, June 25. Race registration takes place at Winchester’s Rural Cyclery at 7 a.m. The races begin at 8 a.m.
According to the event’s website, the goal of the run/walk/bike race is to show support for military veterans and their families. Specifically, Race With Veterans is designed to raise awareness of mental health issues facing veterans.
“Our event is designed to allow veterans and the community to get together and show support through Biking, Running, Walking, or Rucking around Winchester,” the Race With Veterans website reads. “Through this event we hope that any veteran, their families, or anyone supporting veterans, who are struggling or know someone struggling with Suicidal thoughts can be amongst people who are willing to help and listen.”
According to American Legion Commander and Race With Veterans organizer Matt Barber, exercise and healthy routines are key ways to improve mental health and prevent suicidal thoughts.
“A lot of the community events we do are in the evening, so we tried to think of a daytime exercise thing,” Barber said. “So we thought of the race, because exercise helps with mental health, and hopefully it’s a healthy habit that people can get into.”
The race website further spells out the mental health benefits of exercise.
“Exercise is one of the greatest activities to help combat Suicide and we hope through this event more people will get together to start their running, bicycling, walking, or rucking groups in and around our community,” the website reads.
Barber added that camaraderie and a healthy social life are also key components of good mental health. Toward that end, all proceeds generated by the race go toward Winchester’s American Legion.
“The race benefits the American Legion, being that that’s a place where veterans can go to be around other veterans and talk,” Barber said.
Participants in Race With Veterans may choose to participate in running, walking, or bicycle races of varying lengths and routes.
For more information and to register, visit https://www.winchesterilveterans.com/race-with-veterans.