Andover Community Participates In “Run For Our Troops”

The non sibi spirit of community service came to life this past Sunday when over thirty Phillips Academy students, faculty and staff volunteered together to raise an estimated 30000 dollars in the five-kilometer “Run for our Troops” fundraiser. The “Run for our Troops” road race raised money for Homes for our Troops, a non-profit organization committed to aiding veterans of the United States Military who return home from battles with extensive disabilities or injuries. The organization focuses primarily on raising money and supplies to build homes that provide handicap accessibility for these injured servicemen and servicewomen. The event was made public throughout the Phillips Academy community by both Roy Dennehy, Custodian in the Office of Physical Plant, and Nancy Lang, Assistant Dean of Faculty and Girls Varsity Cross Country coach. Lang said, “After Roy contacted me about the race in Andover a few weeks ago, my job essentially became to recruit, rally and organize volunteers from Phillips Academy to go help with the race.” The event featured a total of ten Phillips Academy faculty and staff members and eight students volunteering at the race, as well as five faculty and staff members and one student actually running in the race. “I was completely surprised by the sheer number of the students who were interested in volunteering at the race. I received numerous emails from students who were curious about the race and wanted to know more about getting involved. It really was remarkable,” said Lang. This year’s road race was the first “Homes for our Troops” event to take place in Andover, Massachusetts and featured a total of 1100 runners alone. Exceptional performances in the five-kilometer race came from Matt Fischetti ’14, who took ninth place, the team of Kyle Graber and Owen Glover, who took 71st place and the team of Claire Glover and Katie Graber, who took 171st place. Matt Hession, Instructor in History, also participated in the road race. He said, “A road race has a lot of moving parts and requires the help of a lot of different people. So there were a lot of Phillips Academy faculty members and students helping out with just the mechanical aspects of the race.” The “Run for our Troops” in particular focused on raising money for a specific war veteran, Army Sergeant Joseph Smith, and his wife, Debra Smith. According to an email from Steve Moland, one of the announcers at the race, Smith enlisted in the United States Army and, after many number of years, transferred to become a United States Marine as a result of the pressure and advise from his predominantly Marine-supporting relatives. When he retired as a Marine, Smith felt that his country still needed him in the armed forces, and, as a result, enlisted in the Army once again. Later that year, Smith was ambushed by two locals in Afghanistan who pushed a 450 pound storage box off of a storage trailer just above him. Smith was immediately paralyzed with life threatening spinal cord and brain injuries. He survived the incident, but now deals with a number of physical and mental handicaps that require serious and expensive accommodations at home. Both Smith and his wife flew up from North Carolina to witness the fundraiser this past Sunday. Nate Wagner ’11 took part in the registration aspect of the race. He said, “The overall event went smoothly and everything went well. The race was a success, with 947 people signing up to run, not counting those who signed up the day of the event. I am happy to be able to help out in such an event as this.”