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Friendship, Fitness, and Support for 4th Stryker Bde families

Run to Afghanistan Launches at Festival of Lights

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Hundreds of friends and family members of the 4-2 Striker Brigade Combat Team gathered in the parking lot of the Pierce County Golf Course in Spanaway to do the 2.5 mile walk at the Festival of Lights.  Groups were huddled together under the shelter of umbrellas, while children were catching raindrops in their mouths and dancing in puddles before the walk commenced. 

"The purpose of this event is to build comradery for the families," said Stacy Miller, Event Organizer.  The walk is coupled with the Raider Run-Walk to Afghanistan, and allowed family and friends of 4-2 SBCT; currently being deployed to Kandahar, to build friendship and support.  "Some families are not feeling so hot right now with their loved ones being deployed," so Miller saw a wonderful opportunity at the annual Festival of Lights to build companionship within these families, while adding mileage toward the Run-Walk goals.

It took Miller less than a month to organize and implement the event.  "I had help," she said.  Miller's husband, LTC Jody Miller, 4-2 SBCT assembled soldiers to volunteer.  These young men enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to support their comrades by driving busses, supply trucks, monitoring traffic and providing security for the participants.  "They will also be getting a 4-day pass to the Festival of Lights," said Miller. 

Pierce County sponsored most of the costs and expenses of the event.  They graciously provided parking.  "Four to Five thousand from the general public attend this event and try to squeeze into a few hundred parking spots, and we are bringing another [500]," said Miller.  They also waived the ticket costs for the families saving them quite a bit of money, with the tickets running about $15. 

Any additional costs and expenses were covered by the USO of Puget Sound, and the Dragoon Family Solider Fund.

"Based off initial feedback, roughly 500 people have made reservations [for the event]," said Miller.  "I'm grateful that [the family and friends of 4-2 SBCT] are excited about it."  She said.  "We will each be walking 3.5 each tonight," said Miller. 

Eight packed busses transported family and friends from JBLM along with two supply trucks loaded with strollers. 

Leslie Sorensen, Program Organizer for the Raider Run-Walk to Afghanistan Project said "this program allows family and friends to create teams for individual soldiers or units."  Sorensen's husband is with the 38th Engineers.  "So far, we have 675 participants registered."  Teams log their exercise in mileage with the goal of reaching 13962 miles: the total distance to Kandahar from JBLM and back. 

Participants use the honor system to report their mileage to team leaders, which are then recorded on a leader board.  Soldiers can monitor their team's mileage on the program's facebook page. 

The Raider Run-Walk launched on October 18th with a Brigade-wide Run, which the soldiers ran 4.6 miles each - totaling over 4000 miles that day alone.    "[Since then] we've been to Afghanistan and back," said Sorensen.

This special program is promoted by the Raider Brigade's credo to encourage.  During the troop's deployment participants will unite to bond by building family and friend morale.  All while promoting physical fitness, and support for the deployed soldiers.  "We are all working to build support together," said Song Getchell, whose husband is the 4th Brigade Commander.  She is working alongside Sorensen in organizing and managing the project. 

With the last wave of soldiers deploying after Thanksgiving, they can count on their credo to be upheld as family and friends unite to encourage each other by building friendship through fitness and support.

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