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MILITARY MATTERS: Run Across GA is Back, Helping Veterans with Home Makeovers

Published: May. 13, 2021 at 12:46 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - It was a tradition for 10 years, people or teams running or bicycling from Savannah to Columbus or vice versa, while raising money to help organizations, including local military veterans, but the hiatus for the event was extended thanks to COVID-19.

The last Run Across Georgia event in-person was 3 years ago, but it’s back Memorial Day weekend 2021, increasing from 260 to 277+ miles, from Tybee Island to Columbus.

“It’s a challenge, an ultimate challenge, but it’s fun...and you’re raising money for 2 great causes,” House of Heroes executive director Susan Wood said.

Run Across GA Race Director Kena Yutz said, “Mercy Med has had a tough year because of COVID. And House of Heroes hasn’t been able to do as many projects over the last year...because they didn’t have volunteers due to COVID.”

Non-profit House of Heroes is also back at it, doing home improvements for at least 13 military and public safety veterans over the last 3 months, and getting busier. The upcoming race used to raise around $100,000 a year for the organization.

“It’s sponsored half of our homes we worked, so that’s how big Run Across GA is for us,” Wood said.

And it’s needed even more with the price way up for things like lumber. Susan Wood, whose father fought in World War II, say they just built a ramp for a vet, replacing rotten stairs that kept him homebound.

She added, “So a ramp that maybe used to cost $800 is now $15-1800, so we use the money we raise to purchase the material to better our veterans’ lives.”

And to help them pay for these projects, people can give or still sign up until Sunday May 23 for the Run or Bike Across Georgia. 4 solo runners and more than 50 members of teams are already training for the trek across the peach state, including a Darby crew from Fort Benning.

“You can make a contribution on behalf of a team or just to the race itself, it’s online and easy and simple. We also need volunteers for our finish line,” Yutz told us.

You can donate to these causes, and choose a team or participant, by going to https://runacrossgeorgia.com/.

While the finish line for Run Across Georgia is May 30th in downtown Columbus, the work is never finished for House of Heroes, as they continue doing works at vets’ homes and yards.

“We thank them for their service to our nation and they all get emotional because most of them have never been thanked for their service, especially those who served in Vietnam,” Wood said.

To hear my full conversation with Susan Wood about the non-profit’s impact and Run Across Georgia, check out https://www.wtvm.com/podcast/, as she’s the latest guest on “Run The Race.”

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