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Published: Monday, 10/7/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Heroes Run event canceled


Corrected version: Amount of previous fund-raising was changed.

A 5K run and other events that were planned for last Saturday to raise money for a veterans' service organization was canceled because of the government partial shutdown.

Mark Peddicord, circulation and marketing manager of The Blade, which sponsored the 'Heroes Run,' said five branches of the military were invited to participate, but they were told they could not.

An email from Lt. Commander Vidal Valentin, the commanding officer of the Navy Operational Support Center in Toledo, informed Mr. Peddicord Friday that he could not authorize servicemen and women under his command to participate, in part because of a restriction on all community and public outreach activities during the current lapse in appropriations.

He also said he couldn't encourage participation if they had to pay a fee to participate when many of them were under a furlough order. The event raised money through participant fees and admission fees. The events were to include the run, dodge ball, volleyball, a tug of war, and a "troop rally."

Maj. Gary Bentley, spokesman for the 180th Fighter Wing at the Air National Guard base near Swanton, said the reason was probably because of the expenditures that would have gone along with participating in even a voluntary event.

“We’re not supposed to expend funds for things that have not been appropriated,” Major Bentley said.

Mr. Peddicord said the military's pull-out meant too many of the likely participants would have been barred. He said a related event, the Gold Star Concert this coming Saturday at Forresters on the River in International Park to benefit a scholarship fund, is going forward.

When the partial government shutdown took effect on Oct. 1, more than 200 Air National Guard employees whose work was deemed nonessential were sent home. That idled the Monday through Thursday practice flights that reserve and air guard pilots normally conduct each morning and afternoon.

Major Bentley said the fighter wing’s alert mission was not scaled back, and the base continued to staff functions that are related to its 24/7 security mission.

Since then, Congress has passed the “Pay Our Military Act,” which pays the salaries and benefits of military personnel. But whether it reinstates all of the guard’s expenditure authority - including whatever expenditures are associated with volunteer activities - was not clear, Major Bentley said.

“We’re not doing all the things we do normally. We’re only doing the amount necessary to keep the pilots’ currency up,” he said, referring to their required training activities.

The run through the streets of downtown Toledo has raised about $5,000 in the last two years, according to Dawn Heisler, president of Heroes in Action.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.

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