Sunday morning race on Albany waterfront benefits Wounded Warrior Project

Monday, May 26, 2014
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The Sprint for Soldiers 5K Race at Albany Riverfront Park on Sunday.
The Sprint for Soldiers 5K Race at Albany Riverfront Park on Sunday.

— There was hardly a cloud in the sky Sunday morning in Albany as runners prepared to take off on their 5K and 10K races at the Corning Preserve.

They were there on the beautiful morning before Memorial Day to make sure America’s returning service members have better mornings themselves as they return home from overseas.

The run, called the Sprint for Soldiers, benefited the Wounded Warrior Project.

“I think it’s awesome,” Navy nuclear mechanic instructor Seth Powers said before the race. “I think it’s great that everybody came out here to support this. It’s a really good activity and it’s for a good cause.”

Powers, a native of Lancaster, Pa., is stationed in West Milton at the Nuclear Power Training Unit at the Kenneth A. Kesselring site. He serves as an instructor. He previously served on the USS Seawolf fast attack submarine.

Sunday morning, he was preparing to run with his wife and sister-in-law, supporting the cause of helping injured servicemen and servicewomen.

In all, more than 200 runners came out to help.

Diane Skiba of Plan Ahead Events, which organized the run, said the perfect weather helped bring out more runners than they expected.

“We thought this was the perfect combination, with Memorial Day and recognizing anyone who’s been in the military,” she said.

More than a dozen current military members were recognized as they took part in the event, including Powers.

Doug and Melissa Dutcher of Hadley each served 10 years on active duty in the military, Doug in the Army and Melissa in the Navy, before getting married. Doug Dutcher also has continued in the National Guard, and is retiring next month. Both are veterans of Operation Desert Storm.

Events like Sunday’s are important for the returning soldiers, they said.

“Our wounded warriors should be held high above everybody, there should be nothing more important,” Doug Dutcher said.

The race started at 9 a.m., and registration was even earlier, so it took some committed effort to participate. The Dutchers said it was a great sight to see all the people who came out.

“This is awesome,” Melissa Dutcher said. “It’s a great day to run, too.”

Her husband added: “It just shows the support for the wounded warriors coming back from overseas.”

Among those out offering their support — and getting some exercise in the process — were Dennis and Christina Rau, of Ballston Lake.

They said they came out to support the troops and to enjoy the day.

“They’re giving their time away from their families, their homes,” Dennis Rau said, “sacrificing so we can do things like this.”

Christina Rau said she has family members who served in the military and she’s seen the impact it has had on them when they come home.

“Any way we can support them,” she said, “because they’re putting their lives on the line for us to have freedoms and other people to have freedoms, so it’s worth waking up on a beautiful day and running.”

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