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Race for a Soldier

More than just a run through the scenic Pacific Northwest

Spirited runners during the Race for a Soldier. Photo credit: Race for a Soldier

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The 2017 Race for a Soldier takes place in Gig Harbor Sunday, Sept. 24. The race includes a half marathon and a 5K. The start, finish and race basecamp is the Tom Taylor Family YMCA. Day of race registration is available at the YMCA. Proceeds from the race benefit the Permission to Start Dreaming Foundation.

According to the foundation's website, their "mission is to inspire hope and action in the community and provide access to solutions for soldiers, affected by post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, and their families via professional services, challenging peer adventures, education and spiritual devotion. Their vision is for every soldier and their families a fulfilled life within reach of their dreams: our hope is for every American citizen's heart, the will to make it a reality."

The Race for a Soldier has been a huge fundraiser for the foundation. In the first three years since its inception in 2011, it has drawn an average 1,500 runners and numerous sponsors who enabled the foundation to contribute over $200,000 to organizations helping soldiers and their families recover from war. The foundation is trying to change the negative impression of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by giving the acronym a new meaning; PTSD - Permission To Start Dreaming.

The foundation has focused their donations to nonprofits that offer alternative therapy programs to not only soldiers but their families as well. Christa Camps Operation Extreme provides fun summer camp-like experiences for youth from military families. Growing Veterans uses farming as a tool to help veterans become effective peer support mentors. Veterans Expeditions is a veteran-led organization that gets veterans outside to help facilitate their recovery. Other groups include Spikes K9 Fund, which support training and care of military service dogs. All America Assistance Dogs, which provides canine companions to returning veterans to help in their adjustment to life outside the service. Financial aid to wounded warriors and their families is provided by Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors. Operation Ward 57 supports through advocacy and education for wounded warriors, servicemembers, veterans and caregivers. The foundation also donates to USO Northwest, which provides moral support to servicemembers and their families.

Race Day kicks off with packet pickup and registration from 6:30-7:30 a.m. The half marathon starts at 8 a.m. followed by the 5K at 8:15 a.m. Award ceremonies will begin with the 5K ceremony at 9:15 a.m. followed by the half marathon at 10 a.m. All spectators and racers are invited to a post-race celebration at the Race Base Camp area of the YMCA. There will be food and music.

Race for a Soldier, 6:30-7:30 a.m. registration, 8 a.m. half marathon, 8:15 a.m. 5K, Sunday, Sept. 24, Tom Taylor Family YMCA, 10550 Harbor Hill Drive, Gig Harbor, 253.853.9622

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