Bob Volkert describes his first 10k race by saying "It's going to be awesome."
Bob Volkert has been training for the prestigious "Bolder Boulder 10K" since there was still snow on the ground.
The annual event appropriately takes place on a holiday when we take time to honor our troops: Memorial Day, and raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
"Having been in the military, it's a soft spot," Volkert said.
He served on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1991-98, and then spent time in the Army National Guard and Naval Reserve, nearly a decade of military service. The former cryptologic technician is now director of athletic communications for St. Francis University. Every day he watches Red Flash student-athletes train for competition; now he himself is in training, not for an NCAA event, but for a higher cause: injured troops and their loved ones.
The Wounded Warrior Project helps to provide much-needed services to families of injured military personnel. Loopholes in the system often leave our troops struggling to adjust to civilian life, and family members are forced to become full-time caregivers.
"We want to raise as much money as we can for this project and we are also hoping to raise awareness," Volkert said. "We want people to realize what our troops are going through when they come back from Afghanistan and Iraq. They are suffering financially, physically and mentally, and the general public needs to understand this."
Volkert will reunite in Colorado with an old friend, Sheri Lawler, whose brother has served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Along with several other friends and family members, they make up the Helping Our Heroes team. With a fundraising goal of $2011, they hope to make their 10K run an annual mission, while growing their team and their totals in future years.
With the support of friends and colleagues, Volkert has been vigorously training for his first six-plus-mile run. After ankle surgery and in spite of shin splints, he's committed to meeting his team and putting his training to the test.
Volkert is more concerned about his lungs than his legs - at an altitude of more than 5,400 feet, this Rocky Mountain race is no small challenge.
"These are the people who fight for our freedoms," Volkert said. "I haven't been on the front line, but I have friends who have been; I've lost friends in the line of duty. These are the people who give us our freedoms, and running 6.2 miles to raise some money for them is the least that I can do."
The race ends in Folsom Field, home of the Colorado Buffalos football team, a fitting finish line for a college Sports Information Director.
It's easy to contribute to Volkert's team by going online to: wwpproudsupporter.kintera.org/rvolkert. Bob also invites other runners to join his team for what promises to be a rewarding race experience.
The Wounded Warrior Project believes that "the greatest casualty is being forgotten." Volkert is Helping Our Heroes, and making sure that we all remember.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.