MARIETTA - Area runners will participate in a 5K run preceding Saturday's Ohio River Sternwheel Festival activities in an effort to raise money for injured Army Spc. Kyle Hockenberry's "smart" house.
Hockenberry, of Marietta, lost both legs and his left arm after being injured in a roadside bomb explosion in June 2011 while serving in Afghanistan.
The run's fundraising efforts are going well, said C.W. Durham, run director and Marietta Fire Department chief.
"We've raised over $15,000. We have had a lot of sponsors who have come on board," said Durham.
The run has more than 400 participants pre-registered. Runners can still register the day of the race.
"We will probably have a crowd of around 500," said Durham.
If You Go
Where: The run begins at Tomlinson Park in Williamstown and takes participants across the Williamstown Bridge, along the River Trail in Marietta and finishes beneath the Washington Street Bridge.
When: Registration begins Saturday at 7 a.m., the race starts at 8 a.m.
Cost: Registration fee is $25 for adults and $10 for participating children age 12 and under. Children in strollers or those not participating are free.
Trolley rides and a 10 a.m. Valley Gem Sternwheeler shuttle trip will be available to take race participants back to Williamstown.
All donations and proceeds go toward funding a "smart" home for Army Spc. Kyle Hockenberry, who lost both legs and his left arm in Afghanistan.
The run will begin at Tomlinson Park in Williamstown at 8 a.m. Saturday and will take runners across the Williamstown Bridge, continue along the River Trail in Marietta, through the tunnel under the Putnam Bridge and finish beneath the Washington Street Bridge.
The tunnel beneath the Putnam Bridge is significant because the run is part of a national series of Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers runs. The runs honor Siller, a New York City firefighter who lost his life in the Sept. 11 attacks, said Durham.
"Stephen Siller was off duty and heading to golf with his brothers. He heard on the radio the towers were hit and he turned around," he said.
Traffic was stopped at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel so Siller put on 60 pounds of gear and ran through the tunnel to reach his company. In honor of Siller's legacy, some firefighters choose to participate in the runs wearing full gear, said Durham.
Marietta City firefighter Scott Casto, 26, will be wearing his gear during Saturday's run.
"I just figured if someone was brave enough to do that on the day the towers came down, I could do it in a run for a good cause," said Casto.
Betsy Metz, who is Hockenberry's cousin, said the race will be a great opportunity to support not only a family member, but all those service men and women who sacrifice for the country.
Metz, who along with her sister will be pushing a stroller during Saturday's event, said the run is a great opportunity to share certain lessons with her children.
"I just think it's important to encourage our kids to support a good cause and be aware of the sacrifices people make," said Metz
Three additional Tunnel to Towers runs to benefit Hockenberry will take place in Ohio over the upcoming weekend. Two runs, one in Medina and one in Defiance, will coincide with Saturday morning's run in Marietta. A final race will take place on Sunday in Cincinnati.
The proceeds from all four Ohio runs will benefit Building For America's Bravest, the Tunnel To Towers Foundation project which is responsible for building Hockenberry's home. The project has completed homes for two wounded veterans and is about to dedicate a third home in California on Sept. 11, said Tunnel to Towers spokesman Chris Kuban.
"There is still money that needs to be raised for Kyle's house, but if we raise more than we need for Kyle's house, we can start funding another wounded warrior's home," said Kuban.
Hockenberry's home is estimated to cost $375,000. A recent benefit concert by the Lt. Dan Band raised more than $200,000 and members of numerous local trade organizations have pledged their services.
Registration for the 5K begins at 7 a.m. at Tomlinson Park in Williamstown. Race organizers ask that participants come early so they have plenty of time to register everyone before the race starts, said Dunham.
Trolley rides will be available to transport runners back to Williamstown. The Valley Gem Sternwheeler will make one trip at 10 a.m. to shuttle runners back to the Williamstown boat ramp.