About 150 runners trotted along a 0.5K race route in Delray Beach while enjoying beers, snacking on doughnuts and raising money for veterans seeking non-invasive, drug-free therapy.
No, not 5K. 0.5K — about 1,600 feet.
Not a fan of running long distances? Over 100 runners participated in a “Slacker” 0.5K race today in Delray Beach. The event provided beer, doughnuts and live music along the short race route. All proceeds benefit the Help Our Wounded Foundation. Check out my story later today! pic.twitter.com/sJlpKnBK1Y
— Nirmal Mulaikal (@nirmalmulaikal) October 19, 2019
The inaugural Slack by the Sea .5k charity race benefited the Help Our Wounded Foundation, a South Florida non-profit organization that connects veterans suffering from brain trauma injuries and post-deployment anxiety disorders with medical facilities that provide hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
The race was an opportunity for community members to support veterans regardless of age and athletic ability, said Jake Hampu, a veteran who served in the United States Marine Corps for over four years and volunteered at the event.
“It was an honor and blessing to see all these people here,” Hampu said. “As a veteran, it makes me feel like we are supported.”
The run began at 11 a.m. Saturday morning. Some participants wore costumes during the race. Local craft beers, doughnut stations, a live DJ and cheerleaders from the Florida Panthers lined the sides of the race route.
“We tried to create an atmosphere that is welcoming of everyone,” said Shaun Hall, the race event co-chair and organizer. “Veterans deserve everyone’s attention. Why not make it inclusive with beer, music, food and minimal movement?”
Sarah Crane, executive director of the Help Our Wounded Foundation, said that the donations will go a long way in supporting the mental health and well-being South Florida veterans.
Over 85,000 veterans reside in Palm Beach County — the largest veteran population in Florida. The state itself has over 1.5 million veterans, which is the third largest population in the country, according to the Florida Department of Veteran Affairs.
The Florida Department of Veteran Affairs also says that in Florida alone, nearly 600 veterans die from suicide each year at a rate slightly higher than the national average.
“Most veterans are prescribed drugs and pills once they come back and seek therapy,” Crane said. “It’s not healthy. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is an alternative that can support them in a more effective way.”
Crane said that the therapy is safe and non-invasive. It uses pure oxygen to treat patients, who absorb the oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. The treatment could also assist healing the brain and muscle injuries, she said.
“It allows the body to naturally heal itself in a painless way,” Crane said.
Hampu said that he plans on trying hyperbaric oxygen treatment for the first time in the coming months.
“I personally have used many treatments with some degree of success. I’ve had friends try this alternative therapy,” he said. “It’s a growing trend and spreading awareness about it through such an engaging event is really special.”