5K run through Sewickley to once again benefit facility for wounded soldiers

Photo by Sewickley Herald
| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Rob Veltre III plans to more than double his record-breaking efforts this year to help wounded warriors recover, relax and reconnect with family.

Veltre, 17, a Quaker Valley junior, began his efforts with his personal project last year at school, organizing a 5K run/one-mile walk that he named the Brave American Classic to benefit Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors under construction in Bluemont, Va.

He raised $14,000, a total that Linda Conlon, Quaker Valley secondary academic specialist/project coordinator, said was the highest ever raised by a student for a personal project.

Veltre, son of Delia Battista and Robert Veltre Jr. of Sewickley, decided to hold the race again this year at 9 a.m. March 2 at War Memorial Park in Sewickley.

This time, his goal is to raise $30,000 to help build the retreat for soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last year, about 135 people participated in the benefit race.

This year, Rob Veltre said, he expects more than 200. There are 12 teams that will participate and are fundraising for the event, including Sewickley United Methodist Church, North Way Christian Community, Girl Scout troops 50930 and 50329 and Veltre's father's company, Inmedius.

Each team will be recognized with a personal framed letter of appreciation from Boulder Crest Retreat Foundation. The top two teams raising the most money will receive medals.

Customized medals will be awarded to the top three male and female finishers plus the male and female winners in various age groups.

The organizer encourages participants to register early to ensure they will receive a red, white and blue long-sleeve T-shirt made from recycled cotton.

Rob Veltre said the fundraiser has received a wealth of support, and a tier system for donations has been set up where sponsors will match up to a certain amount of money donated. Sewickley businesses also are helping to support the race.

Running track and cross country since he was in seventh grade, Veltre said for his personal project, he wanted to choose something he was interested in, so he came up with the 5K race. He said he hopes to keep organizing the race every year.

It all started in 2011 when Ken Falke, the founder of the retreat, asked Veltre's father to join the Boulder Crest board of directors. He and Falke are friends, and formerly worked together on a concept Falke developed for information technology that helped bomb technicians operate more safely.

The older Veltre's company designed, built and helped field the technology to Iraq and Afghanistan.

His son, who also is a member of Student Council, Key Club and National Honor Society and president of the Christian Club at Quaker Valley, said his father's involvement with the project cemented his decision to raise money to help build the retreat.

The teen's mother said the retreat will help wounded warriors get away from the physical and mental grind of the day-to-day outpatient care cycle and relax with family with whom they might not be able to see often.

Veterans will stay in one of four cabins built with the veterans' disabilities in mind on 37 acres donated by Falke and wife Julia at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where a lake is located and a garden is being built. It will be free for veterans to visit for a one- to two-week stay.

The retreat, which will have its first “test family” this summer, is slated to open in September.

The younger Veltre, who would like to have a career as an aerospace engineer, said the retreat, which will provide nonclinical therapeutic care to troops suffering physical and psychological wounds, is “truly innovative in that it fits a niche that currently isn't filled in the world of wounded veterans.”

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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