By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Two- and four-legged Islanders are invited to Veterans Park Saturday to show their support for veterans who could use a helping hand.
The Vikings for Veterans event will take place at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, in the park near the Veterans Memorial Wall off Bedell Road. Organized by the Student Council at Grand Island High School, the fundraiser will include options for runs of 5K or 8K, or a 1K walk. Bob Simpson, Student Council advisor, said this year participants are encouraged to bring their canines to Veterans Park for a 1K dog walk as well.
Registration is $25 for adults and $15 for students and can be done online at www.vikingsforveterans.weebly.com.
Student Council Co-Vice Presidents Giana Aiello said MaryLis Rustowicz said the dog walk brings "a loveable factor" to the event.
"I especially like the dog walk," said Student Council President McKenna Collignon, noting that the funds raised at Vikings for Veterans will go to WNY Heroes and its Pawsitive for Heroes program that supports service dogs for veterans.
"It's kind of like a dogs supporting dogs thing," Simpson said of the 1K dog walk. "So it's really cute. It's fun to see all the dogs together. We have a little dog park after."
Support for veterans is popular at GIHS. "I feel like a lot of people look up to them because they've been through it all," Collignon said.
Aiello also noted that the students are at a point in their lives when they're deciding if the service is the right post-high school option. Rustowicz added, "We're are the age where we start to think, 'That could be us.' And so we honor the people who have the courage to do that."
"It's an easy way to make money for a good cause," Aiello said. "And you're working out, and you're having fun, and you're donating money to good people."
"How can you say 'No,' " Rustowicz said.