The City of Bloomington will host its fifth annual Veterans Day race Nov. 11 at 9 a.m. at Switchyard Park. Proceeds will support health and wellness initiatives for veterans and first responders in Monroe County.
“We decided to host a 5K where we bring in vendors and sponsors that can promote mental health for those populations and also incorporate physical health and get people active in the community,” Shelby Drake, City of Bloomington health and wellness coordinator, said.
In a new partnership with Veterans Affairs of Indianapolis and Monroe County, Drake said the city plans to increase general education around suicide prevention and make sure people know about the 988 number, a suicide and crisis hotline.
Drake said the city is also looking into bringing buddy benches to Bloomington. These are specific benches placed throughout a community people can sit at if they need help.
“If someone is sitting at one that signifies to staff or other community members that they are in need of a conversation, whether that’s just to talk or it’s a more serious conversation around needing help through a mental health crisis,” Drake said.
The city is also looking to bring free classes to the veteran community such as boxing, pickup basketball and fly-fishing classes in 2024. Drake said these classes would aim to support veterans’ physical and mental health.
Jennifer Jenkins, a representative from the Wounded Warrior Project, will speak at the race. Wounded Warrior Project is an organization offering support for wounded veterans and their families. Jenkins will speak about the Wounded Warrior Project, and her experience as a caregiver for a veteran family member.
Jenkins will speak at 8:35 a.m. Nov. 11. Boy scout troop number 1148 will present the colors at 8:50 a.m. The 5K will begin at 9 a.m. and the one-mile walk will begin at 9:15 a.m. Online registration for the race will end 5 p.m. Nov. 10, but in-person registration will begin at 8 a.m. on the morning of the race.
Individuals under 10 years old can participate in the race for free, while veterans and first responders can participate for $25. Registration will cost $30 for everyone else.
Drake said there are currently around 50 participants registered, and she hopes to see 100 to 150 participants total.
There are also volunteer opportunities at the race for set up and tear down, as well as helping with course directions and onsite registration. Volunteers can register online and City of Bloomington Community Relations Coordinator Emily Buuck said more volunteers are needed for the 7-10 a.m. time slot.
Buuck said the race will have 12 sponsors on site to help promote veterans’ mental health and provide educational information. Some of this year’s sponsors are American Legion Auxiliary Unit 18, First Command and Indiana Fitness Clubs.
“I think the big draw to this is it’s the Veteran’s Day 5K, it’s very much a way to recognize our veterans and first responders,” Buuck said.