While Turlocker and United States Army veteran Cory Smith may have returned home several years ago after witnessing the affects of war first hand, his patriotism has not waned evident by his decision to take to the streets of Turlock — literally — to increase locals’ understanding of the sacrifice of soldiers.
Just three years ago Smith and a fellow friend and veteran took a run on Sept. 11 in memory of those who have given their lives for American freedoms, but little did Smith know that the following year more than 300 locals would be running beside him. Having turned from a jog into a fully fledged fundraiser, locals in attendance not only ran for a cause but donated over $900 collectively.
Smith collects the funds and then donates them to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that aims to meet the needs of injured service members upon their return to the States. Having seen firsthand the toll war takes on soldiers’ minds and bodies, Smith found the Wounded Warrior Project the ideal nonprofit to donate to due to its focus on reintegrating veterans into daily life following the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Once a veteran, always a veteran,” said Smith.
For the past two years Smith has run the exact same route and this year will be no different: starting on West Hawkeye Avenue at Donnelly Park the route that amounts to roughly a 5k run takes runners eastward towards Geer Road; north to Monte Vista Avenue; westward to Golden State Boulevard; and eastward back onto West Hawkeye Avenue to return to the finish line.
While Smith’s ultimate goal is to spread awareness and contribute to fellow veterans, he also intends to continue this run “until the City says I can’t or God stops me.”
The Red, White, and Blue 9-11 Run will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 11. Smith will be present at 4 p.m. with a sign in sheet and runners bibs for participants.