The 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, partnered with The Arms Forces to host the I Believe I Can Fly 5k, April 9, at the Toledo Express Airport in here.
More than 250 runners participated in the race, focused on raising awareness for veterans and current military members with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
A survivor of a traumatic brain injury herself, President of The Arms Forces, Pam Hays, founded the organization in 2009 with an emphasis on bridging the critical gap in services available for military veterans and hopes of fostering awareness and support for veterans with PTSD and TBI.
The race, now in its third year, provides runners of all ages, the rare opportunity to run a unique course, down the taxiways used by Northwest Ohio’s very own 180th FW, while also promoting awareness and raising funds to benefit our veterans who have given so much to our great nation.
“I think we inspire people to get to know the military. They’re people you sit down and have dinner with, they’re people who you go to church with and the Guardsmen have jobs in your community,” said Hays. “The race has been a great representation of how we can all come together and get to know each other, and be able to do something good with all of that.”
“We are part of this community. We live here and we work here,” said 180th FW Security Forces Officer, Capt. Diana Sluhan, explaining why it is natural for the 180th FW to support our community’s events. “That’s part of the beauty of being in the Guard.”
Sluhan and the wing’s Company Grade Officer Council took the lead on coordinating the wing’s participation in the event, partnering with several local law enforcement agencies to ensure the race was safe and fun for participants. “We’ve got local law enforcement and Air National Guard Security Forces working with the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority to secure the installation,” said Sluhan. “The Arms Forces volunteers, Monclova paramedics and our firefighters are here providing medical support.”
The 180th FW has a long history of community involvement and partnership. This morning’s 5k race was another example of what can be accomplished when widely varied organizations from Northwest Ohio come together for the common good.
“I just want to thank all of our community partners, our volunteers, everyone who donated, there’s so many. The police, the fire crews, the 180th and the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority,” said Hays. “Without the community involvement, we wouldn’t be able to put this on.”
Proceeds from the 5k will be used to fulfill The Arms Forces mission, to provide a caring heart and a listening ear that helps educate, empower and facilitate change for military members and veterans who have a TBI or PTSD, resulting in better outcomes for their lives. The Arms Forces is committed to being a leader in serving veterans with TBI or PTSD by addressing their unique needs and providing programs and services that are customized to make the most of their deficits while highlighting their abilities.
“So many of our veterans now live with lifelong effects of PTSD and TBI as a result of their selfless service,” said Col. Kevin Doyle, 180th FW commander. “The men and women of the 180th FW are proud and honored to partner with such a great organization focused on supporting those who have served and those currently serving, in defense of this great nation.”