By Anne Neborak
@AnnieNeborak on Twitter
UPPER PROVIDENCE >> This year’s Walk for the Wounded at Rose Tree Park on May 14 will honor heroes who serve on the battlefield at home and on foreign shores.
Philadelphia police Officer Jesse Hartnett will be honored for his bravery by Delaware County Council. Hartnett, an East Lansdowne native, was ambushed by a gunman while on duty in his police car. The gunman said he acted in the name of Isis. Hartnett survived, despite being shot multiple times in the left arm. He was able to shoot the alleged gunman, Edward Archer.
Upper Darby’s Brian Siegman served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999 to 2010 with the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and the 2nd Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Company. After his two tours in Iraq, he became an Upper Darby police officer for three-and-a-half years. Today, he is attending Delaware County Community College, working on a degree in global studies.
“Brian Siegman will be our speaker. A husband and father of four children, he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It has wreaked havoc on his whole family. His story and the struggles he faces need to be heard,” said Nick Constantino, senior adviser of Operation First Response, which supports Wounded Warriors and their families with personal and financial needs.
Services are provided from the onset of injury, throughout their recovery period and along their journey from military life into the civilian world. Financial aid varies as each case is based on individual needs ranging from rent, utilities, vehicle payments, groceries, clothing and travel expenses. The walk and run is a way to support veterans through Operation First Response.
Patricia Hilferty is originally from Ridley and volunteers with Operation Response and the Walk for the Wounded. Her son, Andrew, graduated from Spring-Ford High School. He served two tours in Afghanistan. He is now serving in the Army National Guard.
“Our military men and women are not getting the help they need. They don’t know where they can get help. I am grateful my son is home. As a family we want to give back. So many of our military are too proud to ask for help. People need to get involved. I am lucky our child came home safe,” said Hilferty.
The Walk for the Wounded and Warriors 5K Run is Saturday, May 14. The registration for the run is 9 a.m,. and the walk is 10 a.m. The 2-mile walk is free but donations and pledges are encouraged. Pledge online at www.WalkForTheWounded.org.
The walk has raised more than $1.3 million and has helped 7,000 soldiers and their families. More than 97 percent of every dollar raised goes directly to wounded soldiers and soldiers in crisis.
“We have so many volunteers and no paid staff. Everything goes to the cause. People who donate can earmark the funds for veterans only in Delaware Country or anywhere else in the country,” said Constantino.
This year, there will be some changes. Ukee Washington will emcee the event. He is co-anchor with Jessica Dean of CBS3’s Eyewitness News and on The CW Philly 57. Interboro’s Marching Band will lead the way at 10:45 a.m. The walk begins at 11 a.m., and the Phillie Phanatic will be there at 11:30 a.m. The Blue Skies All Veterans Group will parachute into Rose Tree Park. Along with zip-lining and challenging themselves on a climbing wall, participants will be able to bungee jump.
Bucket List, a Delco group, will be performing along with DJ Partytime, and Mission BBQ food truck will be present. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“This is the ninth year for the event. There will be close to 3,000 walkers and runners. In the past, we hit the $200,000 mark. It definitely helps our veterans in need,” said Constantino.