By Brett Grobman, OMS III
Each morning we wake up, we are blessed to enjoy freedoms that we often take for granted. But freedom isn’t free. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the many fallen and wounded service men and women who have sacrificed the unimaginable so that we may have the freedoms we so greatly cherish.
For the past two years, Team NYIT-COM has participated in the Long Island Run for the Warrior® to honor our Heroes. Run For The Warriors® is a unique race dedicated to the men and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, their families, and families of the fallen. It is now becoming an honored tradition at NYIT-COM, where our student body and faculty can come together in solidarity, along with thousands of Long Islanders, to show our troops and veterans how grateful we are for the sacrifices they made and continue to make for us.
Last year, there were 36 registered team members, including two faculty members, Dr. Patti Happel and Dr. Thomas Chan, along with several general team donors! All together TEAM NYIT-COM raised a total of $2,863, ranking them in the top 3 among team fundraising for the event. A special thank you to Dr. David Levine, the top general team donor, who was made an honorary team member and was presented with an official Team NYIT-COM team running shirt, and the top fundraising runner Andrew Bohlen, the 5th leading fundraiser overall out of over 3000 participants at the event! Additionally, seven of the team members placed in the top 100 runners for the 10k race!
The overall response of last year’s participants was an experience that was both positive and encouraging. John Sullivan (OMS-III), Ensign (ENS) US Navy and last year’s president of NYIT-COM’s military physician organization on campus, AMOPS, was delighted with the outcome of the event and the establishment of the AMOPS Fitness Club on campus which has served to integrate both military and non-military students on campus. “This event continues to highlight our commitment to supporting wounded warriors and our dedication to self-improvement. Since the beginning of (fall 2013), members of the Association of Medical Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (AMOPS) have met twice a week, every week, for group physical fitness. Members of the 1st and 2nd year class have volunteered to lead sessions including 3-5 mile runs … It has been inspiring to see this team come together to promote health, fitness and community.”
Dr. Patti Happel ran with emotion and purpose and shared with me a brief glimpse into her motivation for participating in the event. “Although I am a novice to the running world for the past year, I wanted to participate in this run to honor and pay tribute to my father, Richard Happel. He was a Korean War Army Veteran, who passed away in March 2013. I love running … it allows me to have a healthy internal competition, challenging myself with each and every run. With my busy schedule, it allows me a healthy and positive outlet to free my body, mind and spirit from the everyday stressors. Running has been paramount in my transformation, conquering a lifelong battle of morbid obesity. I run because I can! When I get tired, I remember those that can’t run … what they would give to have this simple gift we take for granted, and I run harder for them.”
The current president of AMOPS, Matthew Stark (OMS-II), 2nd Lieutenant US Army was overwhelmed by those he saw running alongside him – young or old, “As a member of the military, it was very inspiring to see so many veterans and their families coming together for this event. For me, the best part of the race was watching a 93 year old military veteran pass the finish line. It just goes to show that the American values of toughness and perseverance are not lost with age.” Christian de Elia (OMS-II), secretary of AMOPS, had a similar experience and recounts that, “the best part was the feeling of camaraderie amongst all the runners. Honestly, I wouldn’t have finished as strong as I did had I not been urged on by a fellow runner. It was a pretty amazing way to finish off the race.” For Dr. Thomas Chan, this event was not only an opportunity to bring awareness to our heroes – “I participated because I felt it important to support the NYIT-COM team of students who take time out of their busy lives to organize and support great charitable causes such as helping the veterans in Run For The Warriors®. The best part of the experience was interacting with the students outside of the university setting in a relaxed and positive environment. The smiles, joking around, and team spirit was(sic) infectious before, during and after the run.”
Now for a 3rd straight year, AMOPS, NYIT-COM and its student body will again come together to form the Team NYIT-COM Warriors. But the true warriors are the one’s so often forgotten, the men and women who ran alongside them – those still in uniform, veterans who have returned home, some with prosthetics, others, now paraplegics on hand bicycles, and the families of those who have made the greatest sacrifice of all – life. In setting aside any societal divides – military and non-military, faculty and non-faculty, young and old, the Team NYIT-COM Warriors have come together as one unit to pay tribute to America’s greatest warriors in what hopes to continue as a proud tradition at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Andrew Bohlen (OMS-II), ENS US Navy, treasurer of AMOPS, summed it up best in sharing his experience, “I participated in Run For The Warriors® because I wanted to give my support and donations to an amazing organization that is providing support for wounded US service members, their families, and families of the fallen. These days, it is easy for a lot of Americans to forget that we have been involved in a military conflict for over twelve years now and that it still continues to this day. However, for the men and women serving in the US armed forces and their families it is not. By participating in Run for the Warriors® I hoped I could raise awareness about the sacrifices still being made by the men and women in our Armed Forces and their families and the need for more support for the veterans of America.”
Come out and join AMOPS on November 9th! To sign up for the 3rd Annual NYIT-COM Runs for the Warriors follow this link:
Click “register” on the left side of the screen and follow the directions to join a team. Our team name is “NYITCOM”.