LEXINGTON, Va. – On November 24, several members of the Virginia Military Institute lacrosse team made their way to Manhattan for the 6th Annual “A Run Down Hero Highway” Lead The Way Fund 5K run/walk. Seven cadet-athletes and a coach rucked the five-kilometer event with 40 pound packs.
The members of the team were led by assistant coach Staff Sgt. Michael Grimm, a former member of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the United States Army. Cadet-athletes that participated were Rory Dillon, Gage Snowbarger, Dan Bull, Joe Amato, Ian Marinacci, Garrett Warren and Ben Huger. Marinacci, and Warren are all pursuing commissions in the United States Army after graduating from the Institute. Dillon, a senior co-captain for the 2013-14 academic year, received his branch assignment last week and was selected for Infantry. He will attend the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course upon graduation from VMI in the spring.
Joining the current members of the program was US Army Capt. David Jacobs ‘08, who is currently assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., and recently completed Ranger School, headquartered at Fort Benning, Ga. Jacobs played midfield for the team from 2005-08.
Over 1,100 people turned out for the patriotic and family-friendly 5K run/walk/stroll which honors Sgt. James J. Regan, was started by the Regan family of Manhasset, N.Y., in honor of their son, a former lacrosse player at Duke University. Regan was killed in action in February 2007 in Iraq while serving with Charlie Company 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment. VMI lacrosse will join other NCAA Division I lacrosse programs participating in the event, including Duke and Army.
“I’m so proud of this team. When they said they wanted to take part in a community service event, the first thing that came to mind was the Lead The Way Fund and Jimmy,” said Grimm, who knew Regan during his time in the 3rd Ranger Battalion. “It’s great that we can bring these worlds together, and have it mean something to our cadet-athletes, to not only participate, but come away from an event that gives them a broader perspective of the service and sacrifice of so many.”
Every year the event brings together a diverse and spirited group of runners, walkers, soldiers, veterans, moms, dads, kids and more for a run/walk/stroll along the Hudson River. The round-trip run/walk starts at Pier 46 and continues along the West Side Highway, past Ground Zero, in constant view of the Statue of Liberty. The festivities continue with a post-race celebratory brunch at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers that features great food and drink, raffles, live entertainment and a special tribute to three of our Nation’s Fallen Heroes.
“As someone who is soon receiving a commission, I feel honored to participate in something like this. Knowing that I have the backing of the entire VMI lacrosse family makes it more special,” said Dillon of the team’s involvement in the Lead The Way 5K. “Knowing Sgt. Regan’s connection to the game, what a tight knit group the Ranger community is and how close the lacrosse community is, it’s great to be able to honor someone who had such an impact in both worlds.”
For the second year, The American Fallen Soldiers Project presented original portraits to the families of beloved fallen Rangers SGT Andrew Nicol and SPC Bradley D. Rappuhn. In addition, continuing with tradition of supporting other home-town heroes in the NYPD and FDNY, The American Fallen Soldiers Project will be presenting a portrait to the family of NYPD 9/11 First Responder, Bomb Squad Detective Claude “Danny” Richards.
More information on the Lead the Way Fund and to register for the 6th Annual “A Run Down Hero Highway” visit www.LeadTheWayFund.org.
Lead The Way Fund, Inc. is a 501 c3 non-profit organization established to raise funds in support of families of U.S. Army Rangers who have died, have been disabled or who are currently serving in harm’s way around the world. The funds raised will provide spouses and children of deceased, disabled or active duty Rangers with assistance for health and wellness programs and other financial aid programs. The Lead The Way Fund, Inc. was created in honor of our friend and local hero Sgt. James J. Regan who was killed in Iraq while serving with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.