Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

March 23, 2014

Campbell's 5K run raises more than $1,000 for disabled vets

ATHENS — Military veterans who served in Iraq and Vietnam, and one who was aboard a nuclear submarine, were on the move Saturday morning in Athens.

A 5-kilometer race that raised money for equipment for disabled veterans drew 56 people  to the track at Concord University for a run-walk that stretched into the streets of the surrounding community.

The footrace, RunForVets, is the senior project at PikeView High School of Vaughn Campbell, an Athens resident. Proceeds are to go to a non-profit Beckley-based effort, the Disabled Veterans Relief Fund (DVRF).

“We had a great turnout of 56 and were able to raise $1,172 for DVRF,” Campbell said in an email.

Michael Canterbury of Princeton finished the race course first, though one runner who had lost his way arrived earlier after an unintended “short-cut.”

Canterbury said, “I think it’s really good that (Campbell) took the initiative to do a 5K run. Not only does it help a great cause for his senior project, but it also helps the area with more 5K runs. This area is sometimes limited in races ... . I think he did good with adding another race to the schedule for this area.”

“I hope he has done well for his grade.”

He said, “I found out about this race through the Bluefield Daily Telegraph first, and then I found it on the Southern West Virginia Road Runners Club (website).”

“I read about the cause through the paper, and having family members — grandfathers, uncles, my father also being a veteran — I thought it would be a great cause to come out and support, to help those veterans who have sacrificed so much ... .”

The second-place finisher was one of Campbell’s classmates at PikeView, Chris McBride.

He said he showed up “just to help out a friend, and get in better shape for track season. ... Our first meet’s next Friday.”

Asked his thoughts about the money going to disabled veterans, McBride said, “They need money to help them do what they need to do. If they get injured, when they fight for this country, we should give back and help them.”

He said Campbell’s effort was not a typical senior project at PikeView, “but this year most of the senior projects have been community-driven.”

The executive director of the DVRF, Ryan Cantrell, was grateful to Campbell and to the race donors.

“We need more people like Vaughn,” Cantrell said. “He goes a long way toward helping people who need the equipment receive the equipment they need.”

“It’s wonderful to see how many people actually care and will come out and help out with these fund-raiser projects. It’s great. I really am at a loss for words sometimes, seeing the people that are willing to help out.”

Though he runs his effort from Beckley, Cantrell said, “We have volunteers all over the country. We’re a purely volunteer organization. No fancy offices, nobody gets paid. The good part about that is, 100 percent of what we take in goes right back out to the veterans.”

“We place equipment all over the country,” he said. His group primarily works to get equipment that allows disabled veterans to participate in movement activities, which he termed “adaptive rehabilitation,” and specialized athletic pursuits like wheelchair basketball, bowling and golf, among other sports.

“West Virginia is, unfortunately, one of the states where the VA doesn’t actively have any athletic programs. We’re trying to concentrate on states where the members are on their own to find programs to participate in and to get the equipment. West Virginia is one of those.”

The need for equipment is “the most expensive part for the veterans to be able to participate. That’s why we’re trying to get the equipment donated, or to defray the cost for them and to assist them to get the equipment.”

Speaking to the runners prior to the start of the race, Cantrell said, “Thanks, everybody, for coming out. Events like this help us provide that kind of equipment.”

He watched the race from his wheelchair. He explained that he suffered three crushed vertebrae in his back “and additional complications” in an accident aboard a submarine.

“I was one of the officers,” he said. “That’s how my injury occurred. A heavy piece of equipment was about to fall on one of my guys. I jumped across and pushed him out of the way, and it actually landed on my back.”

“I was heavily into athletics in high school and college,” he said. “After my injury, I went through an extensive rehabilitation process, but I found out, first-hand, that sometimes you’re on your own to get the equipment that you need.”

“The Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA, have social workers that try to match the veterans with the equipment that they need. There is a lot of equipment that the VA can’t provide, and-or doesn’t provide, that they deem is unnecessary ... to day-to-day life.”

“When it comes down to dollars and cents, they have a small variety of equipment to fit the largest categories that they can fit, but there’s a lot of people that still fall outside of the norm.”

The catalyst who got Campbell and Cantrell together was Wanda Childs, pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Beckley, who took part in Saturday’s event.

She said once the two got started on the project, “They just ran with it.”

“I’m so proud of Vaughn,” she said. “He’s done a great job. ... The issue is so huge,” she said. “To get exposure for this, I think is tremendous.”

Concord student George Myers made three laps around the quarter-mile track, slowly walking behind his own wheelchair before he halted his effort because of pain. Now a Hinton resident, Myers enrolled at CU last fall as a political science major and pre-law minor.

He said about his effort on Saturday, “It was very important, for one reason, supporting my fellow veterans — most of the veterans that are worse than what I am.”

Myers, who rose to the rank of staff sergeant in the Army, served in Saudi Arabia with the Air Force in 1990-91, and was in Iraq in 2005 and in 2010.

“In 2010, I was wounded and medi-vaced out of Iraq,” he said. He said he still has a bad back from the injury.

Bob Lewis of Glenwood, an Air Force veteran, said he served in Vietnam in 1967-68.

“I’m here just to support the vets,” he said. “It’s a great project. They need all the support they can get ... . They need medical support, and they need the moral support of the community.”

The race included 28 runners, 24 walkers and two dogs. Participants included Concord Registrar Carolyn Cox and retired PikeView teacher Paul Hodges, who won the walk division of the event. Beverly Lytton was the fastest female walker.

PikeView student Sophie Klein was first across among female 5K runners.

Canterbury said the race included “a little chill in the air when that wind blows.” He said, “It is early, but for most runners it’s never too early. We enjoy getting out all year, no matter what type of weather it is.”

The hill that faced runners after they left the Concord football stadium was no problem for Canterbury.

“I’m used to hills,” he said. “We live in a pretty rolling country here, so there’s always a hill to take in somewhere on a course where you run.

“This hill, it’s a good climb, but once you get up and you get to turn around and come back down, you’re pretty good after that.”

He noted, “The turnout was good. I guess I always (think) you could see more come out, especially for a cause such as this, for the vets.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

*****

HelpVetsRun 5K

Saturday

5K, top three males — Michael Canterbury 20:34, Chris McBride 20:59, Richard Young 21:28

5K, top three females — Sophie Klein 27:00, Sally Howard 28:11, Terri Scott 30:47

First-place walkers — Paul Hodges (male), Beverly Lytton (female)

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