SSG Dale Nelson, front, holds the 983rd Engineer Battalion flag, which is in Monclova, Ohio, as members of his battalion run to the finish line together during the first annual Heroes Run through the streets of downtown Toledo on July 2, 2011.
Beneath just enough clouds to shield the rising summer heat, more than 800 participants traversed downtown Toledo Saturday for the inaugural Heroes Run and Walk, raising about $10,000 for a military aid organization.
Although a few raced against the clock, many participants ran to honor friends and family members serving overseas, and several active and reserve soldiers ran in support of fellow service members. The 5K run and 1.1-mile walk raised funds for Heroes in Action, which sends about 100 monthly care packages to soldiers overseas and also helps veterans with clothes and basic utilities.
Army veteran Anthony Wells of Toledo said he volunteered for the event after calling the group for a lift to a job interview at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in Findlay.
A volunteer drove him there and back at no charge, and Mr. Wells was surprised he didn't even ask for gas money, he said.
"When someone helps you, it's good to give something back," Mr. Wells said.
The race was rife with patriotic moments amid Toledo's three-day Red, White, KABOOM activities, which culminate with fireworks at 10:15 Sunday night.
About 20 soldiers ran together in gray Army T-shirts, with one runner leading the group with an Army flag. Runners passed by two fire trucks with raised ladders and an American flag between them.
"We couldn't have been more pleased," said Mark Peddicord, The Blade's marketing manager and the event's organizer.
The starting cannon sent the runners off amid cheers, and applause lifted when the group of Army members passed Promenade Park during the race's first of two loops.
An organizer for the Army members who ran together, Sgt. Todd Hastings, said the group was really about those serving who couldn't be there.
"It means more to them than it does to us," said Sergeant Hastings of the 983rd Engineer Battalion Army Reserve unit in Monclova Township.
Owen Dennis, 6, of Perrysburg, gives it his all as he crosses the finish line ahead of Javier Martinez of the Marine Corps.
Ann Steiner of Maumee organized 19 relatives, including herself, for the 5K run.
Some of her family members included her son, Kyle Steiner, an Army first lieutenant who is home for two weeks from Afghanistan.
"It was great to see a lot of people out there and spend time with family," Lieutenant Steiner said. "We hardly ever get that many people together at one time."
Dawn Heisler, Heroes in Action's director, said she expects the run be the largest fund-raiser the organization has had.
The group depends entirely on private donations and fund-raisers.
Winners received custom-made dog tags.
Evan Gaynor of Delta, Ohio, was the overall men's winner with a time of 15:58. The overall women's winner was Becky Minchess of Oregon with 21:02.
"I love running downtown … nothing beats the roads," Mr. Gaynor said. "It's such a fun atmosphere."
The Blade's Mr. Peddicord said next year he hopes to add a third option to the race that could involve a minor obstacle course.
Toledo -- Red, White, KABOOM fireworks start at 10:15 Sunday night over the Maumee River
Bedford Township — Fireworks will be at dusk July 9. Events start at 6 p.m. with Walk Bedford from White Park to Indian Creek Park. The fireworks show will be at the Bedford Community Stadium at 8285 Jackman Rd.
Bowling Green — Fireworks Sunday at the BGSU Stadium and Intramural Fields starting at dusk.
Findlay — Entertainment and fireworks at the Hancock County Fairgrounds Sunday, with gates opening at 4 p.m. at the Fishlock Avenue entrance. Fireworks will begin at dusk.
Fremont — The firing of Civil War cannons punctuates a patriotic concert by the Toledo Symphony Concert Band as the Hayes Presidential Center celebrates the Fourth of July with an outdoor Independence Day Concert at 2 p.m. Monday. Admission to the concert is free.
Maumee — The celebration begins at 5 p.m. Sunday at East Wayne and Conant streets with food and entertainment. Fireworks will be launched from the Maumee-Perrysburg bridge beginning at 10 p.m. The rain date for fireworks only is Monday. Perrysburg and Maumee share a fireworks display from the Maumee-Perrysburg Bridge.
Monroe — The 13th annual River Raisin Independence Festival begins at noon Sunday at Sterling State Park with fireworks at 9:45 p.m.
Oregon — Oregon’s Independence Day festival, “Boomfest” is Sunday at Oak Shade Grove, 3624 Seaman Rd. A car show will be from 2 to 6 p.m., live music will start at 3:30 p.m., and food and drink concessions will be available all day. Fireworks after dark.
Perrysburg — The Star Spangled Banner Celebration will be Sunday beginning at 4 p.m. with family events, activities, and rides. Fireworks will be visible from the Maumee-Perrysburg bridge beginning at 10 p.m. The rain date for fireworks only is Monday. A national salute and drum music will be held at Fort Meigs at 2 p.m. Monday.
Port Clinton — Fireworks will begin at dusk Monday along Perry Street.
Swanton — A celebration will be held at the Swanton High School football field starting at 5 p.m. Sunday. Festivities include carnival attractions, food, games, door prizes, raffles, and a fireworks display.
Sylvania — The “Star Spangled Celebration” is Sunday at Centennial Quarry & Terrace. The event from 7 p.m. to midnight will feature live music, dancing, clowns, children’s activities, and refreshments, with fireworks starting at 10 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Parking at Centennial is $5 a car. Information: 419-882-1500. The rain date is Monday.
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