About 80 people lined up at Prentis Park early Saturday morning to show support for deployed troops.
RED Run, the Remember Everyone Deployed 5K run, was held by the Student Veteran Resource Center and the Student Veterans Club.
The route began at Prentis Park and stretched around Cherry, Plum, University and Main streets.
Runners passed by the Old Ice Rink across from North Complex, where the Veterans Club set up a display of flags, each representing the 6,912 troops killed in action after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Michelle Pliska, the SVRC coordinator and counselor, said planning began last year.
“RED Run is an idea that was kind of bounced around by some students… just kind of coming up with how can we create an awareness about deployments and how we can support USD students and faculty that are on deployments?” she said. “And also kind of create awareness about the vet club and the SVRC.”
Pliska said there’s currently one individual from the USD community on deployment: Jacob Aus, USD’s veterans compliance officer. About five students and faculty are going to be deployed next fall, and there are about 200 veterans at USD, she said.
The SVRC raised $1,100 after the race, a $600 increase from their original goal of $500. The money went toward care packages filled with snacks, gag gifts, letters and USD “swag” for deployed USD students and faculty.
“Anything we raise beyond $500 will be going into an emergency relief fund that the Veterans Club has established,” Pliska said.
The runners also received prizes for “most patriotic” and who wore red the best.
First-year physical therapy major and Navy veteran James Whitcher said RED Run will have a positive impact on deployed troops.
“I spent a lot of time overseas, and I think about those guys a lot that are over there still, and it was cool to have a run and remember the people deployed,” he said.
Second-year student and Navy veteran Krisztian Fasi said supporting troops overseas is important.
“I know inherently, the disconnect is that people on active duty… we all volunteer to go into the military, we all get paid, but it’s that connection from this country toward the individuals who are deployed saying, ‘Hey, we know that you’re there,'” he said. “It allows them to open something and go, ‘Oh, somebody or some group thought of me.’ It reminds them that they’re one step closer to home.”
The RED Run brought the SVRC together, Pliska said.
“Back here, it’s coming together as a team,” she said. “I think that’s just really meaningful to support each other and get involved in positive engagement.”
Fasi said the RED Run was exciting, and he hopes it brings awareness to the military on campus.
“I hope everyone (enjoyed) the run,” he said. “Unfortunately, it tends to be a really hard thing to do, because it’s always an afterthought.”
Whitcher said the team-building aspect was something he was glad to be a part of.
“For me, a goal was just being part of a team, putting together something worthwhile, meaningful that people enjoy. I hope the participants had a good time,” he said. “We were real enthusiastic about it.”
Pliska said she hopes RED Run will become an annual event to raise awareness and support veterans.
“They’re (troops) doing a difficult job,” she said. “(RED Run) is to remember those on deployments so they can still have the connection back home.”