PULASKI — Runners from around central New York came together Saturday to support American armed forces veterans at the Fight For Our Veterans 5K race at the Haldane Memorial Arena in Pulaski.
Pulaski-based organization Fight For Our Veterans, which according to co-director Velma Benway specializes in raising money to support veterans and active members of the American armed forces, raised $2,000 in benefit of Honor Flight Syracuse during their now second annual 5K race.
Honor Flight Syracuse, now preparing for their 14th trip to the nation’s capital in September, is a non-profit that honors veterans by transporting them to Washington, D.C. for a VIP visit to national memorials dedicated to their service.“They are an amazing organization,” Benway said in praise of Honor Flight Syracuse. “We are excited for them. We see there is a need and our vets are so important to us because they give us our freedom, they defend our country and they sacrifice so much and they do it willingly and we just love Honor Flight.”
Benway also said the trip was an opportunity for veterans to reflect on their years of service.
“It is so nice and so engaging, and we love the fact that they at no cost take these vets to reflect on the different memorials that are a symbol to their service,” she said. “It's amazing.”
Honor Flight Syracuse Vice President Michael Gasapo, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years, praised Fight For Our Veterans and noted that most passengers on the flight to Washington D.C. are referrals from organizations such as the Pulaski-based non-profit.
“They provide us with the vets that go on the trip,” Gasapo said. “Without them, a lot of vets wouldn't know we exist so we are really grateful to them.”
Gasapo also said Honor Flight Syracuse will be taking their 1,000th veteran to the nation’s capital next April.
“What we have found is there is a groundswell of support for all these vets,” he said, reflecting on how the missions have changed over the years. “When we get down to D.C., there are numerous organizations that meet us at the airport or the memorials we go to and actually take care of our vets. When we come back there are approximately 1,500 people at the airport welcoming us back home. What that says to me is that there is massive support in the community for vets and we really appreciate that.”
Honor Flight Syracuse officials say they’re always looking for more veterans to honor with their signature biannual event. Veterans who attend Honor Flight also travel with a guardian, usually a family member or close friend.
For more information, visit honorflightsyracuse.org