One year ago Cory Smith never would have imagined that a simple jog around Turlock with a friend would turn into this.
Yesterday, an estimated 400 runners and patriots from Turlock and surrounding areas gathered at Donnelly Park for the first annual 9/11 Red, White and Blue Run, organized by Turlock resident and U.S. Army veteran Smith.
The five-mile run took over Turlock streets as the massive group of people from all walks of life, including Turlock High School’s NJRTOC students, sported all sorts of combinations of red, white, blue and military service apparel. At the front of the pack was Smith, who served his country at the tip of the spear in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010.
“It was a better turnout than I imagined. The feeling of hundreds of people running behind you to support a good cause is an indescribable feeling,” Smith said.
The event raised nearly $800, which Smith will donate to the Wounded Warriors Project, which provides services to service members injured in war.
Kayla Sinchadk, a Hughson resident and participant in the run, echoed the shared sense of pride at the event.
“I had such a great time yesterday,” Sinchadk posted. “It was such a sense of pride and accomplishment that we were able to run for something that really meant something. Cory I do not know you very well but you are an amazing man. I am so grateful I got to be a part of something where everyone had the passion for it. I cannot wait till next year so until then keep shining everyone. See you all next year.”
Despite a badly injured right knee, Smith led the run about a quarter of the way through. He admits that he shouldn’t have been running, and he is getting an MRI on his knee this Saturday.
But pain and sacrifice are something Smith doesn’t shy away from.
“I shouldn’t have been running but I needed to finish that run,” Smith said. “It was an amazing feeling.”
For more information, visit the “9/11 red, white and blue run” event page on Facebook.