Tuck Runs for Veterans draw over 170 participants

by Mika Jehoon Lee | 5/23/17 2:05am

by Robert C Strong II / The Dartmouth

On May 13, over 170 Dartmouth students, faculty and Upper Valley community members participated in the annual Tuck Runs for Veterans. This fundraising event aimed to help the Veterans Education and Research Association of Northern New England, a nonprofit based in White River Junction, purchase a wheelchair-accessible van that can transport local veterans to events in the Upper Valley and surrounding areas.

This year, the fundraiser consisted of two events: a 1K run for children and a 5K run.

The fundraiser was co-hosted by the Tuck Armed Forces Alumni Association, the Tuck Athletic Club and the Veterans Education and Research Association of Northern New England. The Tuck Armed Forces Alumni Association includes 33 veterans who are current Tuck students. Jon Torbett Tu’18, a lead organizer of the event and a member of the Tuck Armed Forces Alumni Association, said the association is currently processing the funds raised from the event as well as reaching out to individual donors and local philanthropic organizations for more donations. All donations will go toward the purchase of the van, which costs at least $20,000, according to Torbett.

Kathleen Durante Tu’18, who participated in the run, said she decided to run because she wanted to help support local veterans. Durante said she has been involved in other events that raised money for veterans such as charity bike rides, and decided to bring her family to take part in the 5K run as well.

The first Tuck Runs for Veterans took place last spring and consisted of a 1K run for children, a 5K run and a 10K run. Co-president of the Tuck Armed Forces Alumni Association Jarett Berke Tu’17 said hosting three different races was relatively expensive and logistically complicated. For these reasons, the association decided to remove the 10K race from the event this year, he said.

“We actually had more people sign up this year for the 5K than we had last year in total, so that was a judgement call that ended up working out,” Berke said.

Proceeds from the 2016 event went to funding the emergency relief efforts of Project VetCare, a Hanover-based nonprofit organization founded in 2012 to provide services to local veterans such as assistance with applications for veterans’ benefits. This year, the association needed a new beneficiary as Project VetCare is no longer in operation, according to Berke. Berke, who is a board member of VERANNE, said he suggested VERANNE as a recipient because he is familiar with the organization’s mission.

Established in 1989, VERANNE is a nonprofit corporation that administers funding for research and education programs at Veterans Affairs medical centers in the Upper Valley and surrounding areas. In the past, the corporation has supported adaptive sports programs, education for VA medical center staff and laboratory studies of chronic and infectious diseases. Executive director of VERANNE Priscilla West said the wheelchair-accessible van for which the fundraising event raised money would be used to transport local veterans to and from different VA medical centers so that they can participate in various education programs such as therapeutic sports activities.

According to Torbett, in addition to Tuck Runs for Veterans, the Tuck Armed Forces Alumni Association hosts an annual community outreach event in which veterans at Tuck play sled hockey with members of Ice Vets, an ice hockey team composed of disabled local veterans.