Flag flies during Firecracker distance runs

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* December 2014: Exercise, connection at center of new veterans group

PINEHURST — Eighteen members of Team Red, White and Blue started out from Lewis Cannon Park at 8 a.m. Saturday in the Pinehurst for a four-mile run to commemorate America’s 239th birthday.

Team RWB is a nonprofit veterans service organization aimed at maintaining the camaraderie experienced in military life as soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines transition into civilian life through social and physical activity. A key goal is sharing that camaraderie with civilians.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Eli Erwin raises the flag high at the start of the Team RWB Firecracker 4-mile run Saturday morning in Pinehurst.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Eli Erwin raises the flag high at the start of the Team RWB Firecracker 4-mile run Saturday morning in Pinehurst.

The event was a virtual race, a component of the Team RWB Firecracker 4-mile and 10-mile events being contested on Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla.

John and Gretchen Faunce started the Moore County-based Sandhills chapter of Team RWB in September 2014. John Faunce said the group had about 30 members after three months and has  more than doubled that since January.

Team RWB founder Mike Erwin, who recently relocated to Moore County after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army earlier this Spring, joined the group for a six-mile run that left Lewis Cannon Park at 7 a.m. Each mile, runners took turns carrying a large American flag. In an effort to reach out to community members and help explain what Team RWB is about, runners and members weren’t afraid to offer a friendly smile or greeting of the day to dog walkers and those rising early to grab their daily newspaper.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com The vanguard of the Team RWB Sandhills chapter at the start of the 4-mile run from Lewis Cannon Park in Pinehurst.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
The vanguard of the Team RWB Sandhills chapter at the start of the 4-mile run from Lewis Cannon Park in Pinehurst.

The group ran into one “really old” — his words — Marine veteran. Erwin, Faunce and Tony Vennekotter, athletic director for the Sandhills chapter, were among those who stopped to talk with the “old jarhead.” They explained the ease with which veterans can sign up — simply visit TeamRWB.org and register for free — and how a high-performance tech shirt would be mailed to them.

The Marine admitted he doesn’t “do that Internet thing” and Faunce said he’d be sure to drop off a shirt at the man’s house.

The four-mile run was scheduled to finish before 9 a.m., which gave everyone plenty of time to clean up and enjoy the Patriotic Pet Competition at Tufts Park, followed by the town’s Independence Day parade and then, back at Tufts, face painting, an antique car display and the Sandhills Farmers Market.

Upcoming Sandhills chapter events

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

While physical exercise is a key part of Team RWB in large part due to the physical training members of the military participate in while in service — and continue when they get out — the group is not just for veterans and it’s not just for runners or triathletes.

Each chapter offers volunteer opportunities that double as outreach efforts — and sometimes fundraising opportunities — and other activities centered around arts and crafts. The majority of events are family-friendly.

July 25 — Habitat for Humanity build on a veteran’s house in Aberdeen.
July 26 — Pottery Painting, Southern Pines
July 30 — Sounds on the Ground music fest at Weymouth Center, Southern Pines

For more information, contact Faunce at john.faunce@teamrwb.org.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, Military and Veterans, News, Outdoors, Region

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