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5K GR Warrior Team Challenge raising money for wounded veterans

A group of Grand Rapidians are holding a 5k challenge race on November 9 to fund treatment for local wounded veterans.
Jennifer Franson met with WHTC host Dave Agema to discuss the race.

Jennifer Franson met with WHTC host Dave Agema to discuss the race. /Jennifer Franson

5K Race Details

  • November 9, 2013
  • Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. - First wave of the race begins at 10:00 a.m.
  • Held at Richmond Hills Park, 1637 Tamarack Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • Participants must be at least 12 years old
  • Over 10 unique team obstacle challenges
  • Event will be timed
  • For fees and information, visit their website.
Bike path at Richmond Hills Park, where racers might face obstacles.

Bike path at Richmond Hills Park, where racers might face obstacles. /Raheeq Al-Zaidan

Official flyer popping up around the city.

Official flyer popping up around the city. /GR Warrior Team Challenge

The GR Warrior Team Challenge is daring people to test their physical limits in honor of local veterans who need community advocates. Jennifer Franson, of Routes Travel, is part of a large team of volunteers turning Richmond Hills Park into a challenge-filled maze on November 9.  All proceeds of the 5k race will be used to fund treatment through Heroes to Heroes for a group of Michigan soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“I wanted a unique way to help. We found a great organization that’s had lasting success treating high levels of PTSD in combat veterans. Heroes to Heroes has a strong impact on the soldiers who are falling through the cracks. Many veterans aren't getting enough help. They come home with PTSD that affects their daily interactions with the community and eats away at their foundation. They stop engaging with family and work, they just get stuck. This race gives us a way to physically show them support,” says Franson.

Prominent groups in the area, such as Westside Fitness, Ronin Krav Maga and Frontlines of Freedom, are sponsoring the race and calling for community support in honor of Veteran’s Day. The 5k is filled with challenges designed by Craig Gray, head instructor at Ronin Krav Maga. With obstacles such as “No Man Left Behind Carry,” “Nerf Combat Shooting Challenge” and “Push Through/Evade Human Blockers,” racers will be expected to cooperate with their team in order to make it to the finish line.

“Most people can definitely complete the challenges with help from their teammates. They’re physically demanding, but everyone should be able to get through them. If you struggle too much at a particular course, you have the option of walking around it,” explains Franson.

People interested in supporting the event aren't required to race. “We would love to have volunteers! One of the main purposes of this race is to provide the opportunity for military service members and civilians to come together,” says Franson. “People can show up, chat with veterans, visit the different booths cheer runners through obstacles.”

Registration costs $35 for individual racers, and decreases with each additional member on a team. Those interested in the race can find more information and registration details on their website.

“This whole organization, all the efforts of every individual, including the funding, race and tour – is entirely run by volunteers. People are coming together because they want to make a difference, and the GR Warrior Team Challenge is a great way to get word out in the community and honor our veterans,” says Franson.


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