Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC), in partnership with the city of Avondale, is honoring veterans with the sixth annual Veterans Day Ceremony and Fun Run Nov. 11.
The day kicks off with a 5K at 8:30 a.m., but unlike other fun runs, this one incorporates boot camp-like obstacles such as tire flips, push-up and sit-up stations, and even ammo can lifts, something Marines must perform every six months as part of the Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test, or CFT.
“We wanted to set our 5K apart from others,” said Robert Dorsett, Student Services Manager, Veterans Services. “People really like it. Usually, about 80 percent take part in the obstacles.”
Based on past events, Dorsett expects around 200 to participate in the fun run. “Fun” is the keyword as all abilities are welcome.
“The last few years, we’ve tried to make it more family-oriented,” Dorsett said. “The participants like that they can run, walk, or push a stroller. And the obstacles kind of break up the run, so anyone can participate.”
Everyone who participates is welcome to take part in a dummy grenade toss at the conclusion of the fun run.
“It’s a real grenade, but it’s been drilled out,” Dorsett said. “The kids really like it.”
A Warrior’s Breakfast, which is free to veterans, military members, their families, and fun run participants, follows the fun run at 9 a.m. in the courtyard outside Komatke Hall.
“We’ll have eggs, bacon, sausage, and potatoes, all cooked by EMCC Culinary Studies students,” Dorsett said.
A Kid Zone will be set up for children ages 3 to 10. There, they can bowl, finger paint, complete an obstacle course, and get their faces painted. The Kid Zone is run by Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) members.
“It’s really a group effort,” Dorsett said. “Our office is the main organizer, but the entire EMCC community comes together to help put this event on.”
The Trio Salado Jazz Quartet featuring Kurt Hauser, EMCC Music Adjunct Faculty, will perform prior to the ceremony, which begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Image Zone.
According to the VA, more than 19 million veterans live in the U.S. The transition from military to civilian life isn’t always easy. Those who lived in base housing have to find new accommodations. Most lose their Tricare health insurance. And oftentimes, they find that they now need two incomes to make ends meet.
Proceeds from the fun run benefit EMCC’s Veterans Increasing Persistence Program (VIPP). The program, which launched in 2017, is designed to assist veterans in financial situations that may prevent them from going to school or completing a degree.
“VIPP funds help students during emergencies, such as an unexpected car repair,” Dorsett said, adding that Veterans Services Center staff work extensively with students who request aid. “We help them establish a budget. We look at how much income is coming in and what’s going out. If it’s medical bills, we help connect them to the VA, which should be covering them. Because sometimes, throwing money at them doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.”
The fun run and breakfast are free to military members and veterans. However, there is an $11.11 for those who want a T-shirt and swag bag. Early bird registration runs through Oct. 11 and is $15 for everyone else. General registration costs $30 from Oct. 12 to Nov. 10. The community is welcome to sign up on the day of the event for $35. All paid registrations include a T-shirt and swag bag. Click here to register.
Check-in for the run starts at 7:45 a.m. Nov. 11 in front of Estrella Hall at 3000 N. Dysart Road, Avondale.