Words & Photos: Washington National Guard St. Patrick's Day 5K Fun Run/Walk at Camp Murray

By Gary Lott on March 14, 2014

It was a wet, green morning at Camp Murray.

And I'm not talking about Mother Nature ... unless she wore green and ran with the Washington National Guard during the second annual St. Patrick's Day 5K Fun Run/Walk.

Yes, it was wet this morning at 7:30 a.m., but spirits were high.

"In the Guard, we don't have as many opportunities to conduct physical training collectively, so it was important to us to facilitate an event that would impact the morale of our guardsmen in a positive way," said the G1's 1st Sgt. Michael Berndt.  "Additionally, every penny raised during the event is donated to the Minuteman Emergency Assistance Fund (MEAF), which directly helps our soldiers and airmen experiencing financial hardships," he added.

The event was once again held to "pay it forward" by the G1 Directorate, who is responsible for National Guard human resources information.

"Most of the G1 staff is involved, in one way or another, because they know the event will benefit Soldiers and Airmen for months to come," said Berndt. "Both the support staff and participants will play an active role in building our professional relationships and strengthening our community."

>>> 1st Sgt. Michael Berndt kept the Minutemen Emergency Assistance Fund silent auction running smooth. It raised $1,022. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Col. Jeffrey Sabatine thanks the National Guard Association of Washington in front of members of the Washington National Guard before the start of the Camp Murray St. Patrick's Day 5K Fun Run/Walk. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, Washington National Guard adjutant general, lists the priorities of the Guard and thanks all of the attendees for supporting the Minutemen Emergency Assistance Fund. Photo credit: Gary Lott

These types of events are important because teamwork and soldier care are at the core of Guard's values. This event covers both.

"The 5K event promotes physical fitness and strengthens our team building skills," said Berndt. "By supporting the Minuteman Emergency Assistance Fund and supporting one another, collectively, we are building resilience in a number of different ways."

>>> The iconic "Fred" The Minuteman statue kept a close on on the craziness. Photo credit: Gary Lott

The Joint Services Support Directorate (JSS) even had their Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness and Resiliency (CSF) class participate in the run.

"We are always glad to see our Fit and Resilient classes coincide with the many fun runs that take place on Camp Murray," said the CSF program manager, 1st Lt. Kyereme Blanding. "It's great to show our class participants the importance of team building, building morale and motivating one another to become more resilient, especially with the cold weather."

Several of the Washington National Guard's Major Subordinate Commands, to include the 81st Brigade Combat Team, 96th Troop Command, 66th Aviation, 205th Training Regiment, JSS and Joint Force Headquarters, spent their own money and donated a variety of themed baskets and other items to help raise money for the event. The National Guard Association of Washington donated all of the food.

"It was awesome to have more than 150 people show up and raise more than $1,000 ($1022 exactly) for the MEAF," said event POC Staff Sgt. Susie Lopez. "We were worried the rain would affect the amount of attendees, but obviously we still had lots of green on Camp Murray today."

>>> Washington National Guard G1 singed the St. Patrick's Day Fun Run banner. Photo credit: Gary Lott

>>> Joint Services Support Directorate's Fit and Resilient class was in the house. Photo credit: Gary Lott