Over $188,000.00 raised at the 2010 Walk for the Wounded in Media, PA
For the thousands who converged on Rose Tree Park in Media PA Saturday to participate in the third annual Walk for the Wounded, it was a chance to honor countless others who paid a severe price to secure the American way of life.
The walk is sponsored by Villanova-based Operation First Response and more than 90 percent of the proceeds are directed to wounded veterans and their families.
More than 5,000 veterans have received assistance through the organization with mortgage, rent, utilities, vehicle payments and groceries. Hundreds of others have been given financial help with air or ground transportation.
In addition, 6,436 backpacks have been sent to combat support hospitals in war theatres.
All of these efforts are fueled by the funds raised during the walk.
“It represents an opportunity to show our military and our wounded that we’re there for them,” said Nick Constantino, a senior OFR executive. “Today is thank-a-hero day.”
The Broomall resident added, “Compared to what they do for us, it’s nothing.”
Nearby, members of the 1st Battalion 126th Aviation Regiment signed autographs. Also known as the 126 Charlie Company, this was the hardest hit unit in Iraq.
Army Sgt. Omar Avila was one of those signing autographs.
An imposing man, the Texas native’s face still showed scars and his hands were discolored from an incident three years ago in Iraq.
Looking at the throngs of people in the park, Avila smiled.
“I think what they are doing is amazing,” he said. “Not every state is so patriotic.”
Avila had served in Iraq for 11 months in a town east of Baghdad before his injury.
Around 8 a.m. on May 14, 2007, he was on a five-man patrol in a Humvee, a routine repeated “like any other day,” he said.
Suddenly, a boom pierced the air.
“It was the loudest thing I ever heard in my life,” Avila said. “I got hit with a buried IED.”
Two of the soldiers died. Avila survived, but he remained conscious throughout the incident that caused 72 percent burns on his body and forced him to undergo a partial foot amputation.
He spent a year in the hospital recovering.
In January, he returned to Iraq.
“Everything’s changed,” the 24-year-old said. “It’s different.”
Once, the roads were deserted. Now, Avila said, “there were cars everywhere. There was electricity.”
He said he hopes to return and thought the visit reinforced the difference all the soldiers were trying to make there.
“I feel good,” Avila said. “I feel like … the guys who passed away didn’t do so in vain.”
George Brosnan, a member of VFW Post 3460 of Media, knows a soldier’s life from two perspectives.
The Media resident served in the Army’s 1st Infantry from 1966-1970 during the Vietnam War. He’s also the father of 26-year-old Ryan, a Marine who’s completed one tour of Afghanistan and two tours of Iraq, and 34-year-old Shannon, a Navy sailor who was sent to Iraq in October.
“It’s probably tougher when you did the same things,” he said of grappling with the reality when his sons are away. “I did the same thing. They’re telling me nothing’s going on, but there is.”
To support Ryan, who’s a huge Flyers fan, Brosnan recorded every Flyers game and then mailed it to his son so he and his friends could watch it.
“They had a good time doing that,” he said.
Even Saturday’s walkers wanted to show their appreciation for the troops.
Barbara Clark of Garnet Valley walked among the stands with her daughter, Kimberly, anticipating the day.
The two planned to walk the event for the first time.
“I think just to support the men and women, especially the families of those who have lost their lives or were wounded,” she said. “I admire them – anyone who puts themselves on the line to protect us. I feel honored to be able to do this.”
Boeing Osprey builder Ginny Trumbull of Delaware brought her 2-year-old grandson, Christopher, to the walk.
“I just want to help,” she said after slipping a blue “Walk for the Wounded” shirt over the boy’s head.
“We’re walking for the wounded,” the toddler said with a smile from his stroller seat
OFR sends a heartfelt Thank You to all those that made this event possible!