With the heavy rains of several days ebbing to a slow breakout of the sun, and early morning hour’s fingers of sunlight coming out to start warming the ground and signaling the end to the weeklong foul weather which followed most Eastern states this time of year. Within two hours of the late afternoon national focus race, large puddles dotted Louisville’s Churchill Down sand based soil, however the affect merely tightened the field of thoroughbreds who seemed to have little dislike of the course to run on. The favorite, Nyquist, took the lead for most of the race while of our wounded/disabled warriors watched with other veterans at VFW Post 7916, near Woodbridge, VA sat around cheering on their “hopeful” win. At the finish it was Nyquist who crossed first, by more than several horses lengths, followed by Exaggerator.
More than 110 people attended the day’s event. Mixed in with the veterans were the more the 10 wounded or disabled veterans who made the annual horse race special. The wounded were from Fort Belvoir and Walter Reed Military Hospitals. Said the VFW Post Commander Charles Wilson after opening the event, “Putting on this event may seem like a challenge, however to me and many of our members it was a welcome goal for us to focus on something other than the typical veteran individual for this annual spring event”. “We truly,” He went on to say, “felt a sense of accomplishment in putting this event on for the wounded warriors”. Post 7916 of Occoquan is one of the leading VFW Posts working with the regional wounded warriors.
Working with the VFW is the Virginia based warrior care not for profit, Project Enduing Pride.Org (PEP) out of Fairfax. Now in its 12th year of support to the wounded warriors, PEP lends its expertise with WW support to many other not for profits, such as the VFW and Fairfax County Fire Department. Said Executive Director, Kenneth J. Strafer for PEP, ”We are proud to know the community will reach out and ask for assistance in planning and conducting support for such as an event as the annual national event Kentucky Derby."
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