Local veterans to join DAV 5K

OUTLET: Suffolk News Herald

By Sterling Giles

The DAV Suffolk Chapter 5 and several other chapters across the state will walk, run and roll in this year’s DAV 5K. The event, beginning at 9 a.m. on Nov. 13, will be held at Oyster Point in Newport News, located at 701 Town Center Drive.

This is the first year Newport News has been selected as a national location for the race. For the past five years, the Virginia event was hosted at Newport News Park. The event typically attracted 500 to 600 participants, but there are expectations for close to 1,000 at this year’s event, according to Denice T. Williams, DAV Department of Virginia senior vice commander.

David W. Riley, DAV national commander, explained why Newport News was selected as a destination for this year’s national series.

“Newport News has a tremendous military and patriotic heritage and is a community that appreciates the service and sacrifices of our nation’s heroes,” Riley stated in an email. “In looking into the event, we got the immediate sense that we’d get tremendous support from the community.”

“But Newport News is known to the military as a place where people are good at building things,” he added. “And that’s what we hope to accomplish with the 5K, to build a partnership between the community, military and veterans.”

Newport News will be among the five locations nationwide hosting the event.

The event welcomes all veterans and civilians, and it is intended as “way to say ‘thank you’ for those who serve,” said Cynthia Madison, past department commander for the Virginia DAV.

The event will begin with an opening prayer and remarks. William H. Wright, DAV Suffolk Chapter 5 commander, has said the opening prayer during the 2013 DAV 5K in Newport News.

Then, Riley will lead the pack from his adaptive bicycle. Riley, a quadriplegic, contracted septic shock pneumococcus sepsis during active duty at the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala.

He lost all four of his limbs and some internal organs due to infection.

“When I woke up a quadruple amputee, I felt like my entire life was over. Everything I knew was gone,” Riley stated. “I never would have guessed that I’d be able to participate in an event like this — more or less lead it off. So I’m extremely proud to be with the people in Newport News who are helping to create new possibilities for veterans by participating in this event.”

Following Riley will be the veteran and civilian motorcyclists, the runners and then the walkers. Also, participants in wheelchairs will join the procession.

Williams said the community support for the event in past years has been “overwhelming.”

“Residents are standing outside cheering you on,” she said.

To register or for more information, visit www.dav5k.org. There will also be on-site registration at the event.

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