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5K run raises awareness of San Antonio's homeless

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Staff, students and recently-graduated Airmen from Basic Sensor Operator Training here, assisted with an event Feb. 20 to elevate awareness and aid homeless people of San Antonio.

Randolph Air Force Base volunteers participated in the San Antonio Metropolitan Ministries' "Street 2 Feet 5K Run/Walk and Kidz' 400-Meter Run."

"This lets folks know we're doing more than staying at Randolph (AFB) and doing our own thing," said Lt. Col. Brian Runkle, the 12th Operations Group Det. 1 deputy of operations. "It gives the young Airmen we have here a chance to get out into the local community and support an event that helps the homeless. And, it also helps people get back on their feet."

To support "Street 2 Feet," 13 uniformed Randolph AFB BSOT Airmen worked with race organizers from SAMM at the Haven for Hope, a downtown not-for-profit agency, that assists transients, on a sprawling campus close to SAMM's emergency shelter.

The Airmen and their military training leaders went to work setting up portable bathrooms and water stations, driving race participants to the starting line, providing security for valuable sound and video equipment located outside, handing out bottled water, and collecting runner's race identification tags at the finish line.

The job of organizing the entire event fell to Megan Cullip, an avid runner who approached SAMM members in early 2009 about launching a health and fitness program for homeless clients at the SAMM emergency shelter. That group met twice weekly and followed a training schedule including stretching, education in nutrition and hydration and walking and running.

Ms. Cullip said the assistance of the BSOT Airmen and their leaders at the downtown run was invaluable.

"We really thank the Air Force for suiting up and showing up to help today," Ms. Cullip said. "They're doing a lot by serving their country; just like the veterans we have in our running group who train with us. They are the most disciplined guys we have as clients."

Staff Sgt. Jose Velasquez, one of the BSOT Airmen's military training leaders, said it was part of his job to expose the technical school's students, many of them fresh from Basic Military Training, to mentoring from others in the community because it gives them a broader perspective about what the Air Force does.

"Working at this event lets them know that the Air Force is also here to get out and reach out to the local community," Sergeant Velasquez said.

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