By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Last year, the Bristol Half Marathon and Relay brought over 300 participants who all showed their support for Connecticut veterans and their families.
This year, Kevin Creed, CEO of Friends of Fisher House Connecticut, hopes the 3rd annual Half Marathon will bring that number to 400.
The marathon and relay will take place beginning at Clark Avenue on Sunday, Aug. 16, with starting guns provided by the First Litchfield Artillery at 8 a.m.
Known as one of the most scenic and challenging races in the tri-state area, the Half Marathon is a certified course with clocks and split times. Awards will be distributed as runners cross the finish line.
Although the event originally was as a 5K run, the Half Marathon has been well received by its participants, who not only come from all over the state, but also from other parts of the country, such as California, Illinois, and Texas.
Creed said the Half Marathon has built a team of loyal followers every year.
“It’s a beautiful location here,” said Creed, who has his own law firm in Bristol. “We wanted to have the Half Marathon in Bristol and to bring people here. It has turned out to be very successful.”
The goal of the event is to support the Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that builds and maintains long-term residential facilities near military hospitals nationwide, as families of seriously injured military men and women need a place to stay during the rehabilitation process. This crucial need is not covered by any other resource. To date, there are 64 Fisher Houses in the U.S. and in Germany, reports the Fisher House Foundation. The homes are located within walking distance of the treatment facility, and serves as a “home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Donated by the Fisher House Foundation, the homes are designed to offer eight to 21 suites, all professionally furnished and decorated in the style of the local region.
Underwritten by The Creed Law Firm, LLC, the organization has promised to raise $3 million for the construction of a Fisher House on the campus of the VA Healthcare System in West Haven. Once that goal is accomplished, the Fisher House Foundation Inc. will match funds for a total of $6 million so construction can begin, according to Friends of Fisher House Connecticut’s website.
The Fisher House is set to break ground this year.
“The Fisher House Foundation lives and breathes because volunteers step up with their time and treasure to make this happen for the benefit of service [men and women] and their families,” said Creed.
Overall, Creed said the Half Marathon “epitomizes” the spirit of the event’s participants and volunteers, as well as its mission to support those who have fought for their country.
Sponsors of the Half Marathon this year include Planet Fitness, Home Depot, Smarty Pants Vitamins, New Britain Rock Cats, Crystal Rock, City True Value Hardware, D’Amato Construction, Country 92.5, PC Techs 4U, Harvest Bakery, BristolCT.Net, and Avon Old Farms Hotel, as well as E.R. Fournier Jr., Dames for Soldiers, Minuteman Press, Advanced American Financial, and The Creed Law Firm, LLC.
Bristol firefighters also have showed their support for the event. Local 773 puts on a pancake breakfast for all the runners and their families. There also are bands along the race course to provide entertainment for the runners.
“I’m really proud of the effort our team has put together on this,” said Creed. “It’s a great time.”
Besides featuring a kids fun run for children age seven to 13, the event will again include a fire/police relay challenge, which gives fire and police departments statewide a chance to compete. Last year, Connecticut State Police won the relay.
“We’re hoping that we’ll have more people participate in that as we grow every year,” said Creed.
A retired U.S, Army officer with more than 20 years of active duty experience, Creed said he feels very proud to be a part of Fisher House, noting how many lives have been touched by the organization. In 2014, over 25,000 families were served by Fisher House, which saved them more than $47 million in lodging cost, food and transportation. Since its inception in 1990, Fisher House has served over 250,000 families.
“I get great satisfaction giving back and helping those who really endured a lot, and will continue to endure a lot,” said Creed, adding how fortunate he feels not to experience a debilitating injury.
A major in the U.S. Army before retiring and entering the practice of law, Creed said, “It was an honor to serve.”
The 3rd Annual Bristol Half Marathon and Relay will take place Sunday, Aug. 16, at 8 a.m. Parking is located at West Bristol School, 500 Clark Ave. The fire/police challenge will begin at 8 a.m. The Kids Fun Run will begin at 9 a.m. at West Bristol School’s track.
The start line is 500 yards up from the timer on Clark Avenue. Bib number/timing tag must be worn on the front when crossing the finish line. Bib pick up and race day registrations will begin at 7 a.m. at Healthtrax. Online registration will end Thursday, Aug. 13.
For more information or to register for the Half Marathon, visit http://www.bristolhalfmarathonandrelay.org/.
By LISA CAPOBIANCO