More than 150 Thunderbolts ran in a 5k to help raise money to aid victims and families affected by the Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“We were having our squadron children’s holiday party when we heard what had happened,” said Staff Sgt. Danny Smith, 56th Maintenance Operations Squadron, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit analyst. “The news touched a lot of people in the squadron. The next day at our holiday party the idea was brought up to do something to help those in need because of this, and I suggested a 5k as a quick way to raise money. Everyone liked the idea so we went forward with it.”
Smith, along with Staff Sgt. Maria Herrera, 56th MOS database team member, began organizing and preparing for the short-notice 5k. Together they reached out to other units on base by sending out email invitations and organizing the run.
“I was surprised how many people actually came to the run,” Herrera said. “We organized it and started advertizing only a day before the event and had more than 150 people participate.”
Participants in the race were asked to donate $5 each toward helping those affected by the Sandy Hook shootings.
“We raised $2,553 for the Newtown Memorial Fund,” Smith said. “Some squadrons did their own fundraisers and combined their funds with ours. The 425th Fighter Squadron raised and gave $1,100.”
The New Town Memorial Fund was set up by the Sandy Hook Elementary School PTA. Their mission is to create a sustainable, multigenerational fund to provide for victims’ immediate and ongoing family needs, a memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and to establish academic scholarships in the victims’ names for victim classmates and for generations of Newtown students to come. The fund has a goal of $26 million and has had raised $493,856 as of Jan 9.
“The run was a shocker to me,” Smith said. “We were expecting at the most 50 people, but what we got was astonishing. For me the biggest reward besides helping those struck by the tragedy was to see that when something like this happens we have so much support on base. With only a day’s notice we came together and raised a lot of money.”