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Riding, Running Fundraiser To Support Veterans’ Mental Health


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Backpacks For Life (BFL), the Verona-based nonprofit that helps homeless veterans, had to cancel its annual golf outing fundraiser this year because of COVID-19. 

In its place, BFL is launching something it calls the VETRideRun event on Sunday, October 4. In it, 20 individuals will ride or run to raise awareness for the issues that veterans face. The number 20 is symbolic because, every day, 20 veterans die by suicide. The group will ride for 45 minutes, with a goal of reaching 200 miles.

Steve Neale, Verona’s director of economic development, has stepped up to be one of the riders. Neale, who serves on BFL’s board, will be running for five miles and then biking for five miles. He’s going to do both on equipment from Hardbodyz Fitness in Verona and will be live-streaming it all, complete, he says, with shoutouts to Verona’s business community. 

Neale’s fundraising page is here and the event’s main fundraising page is here. BFL’s goal is to raise $50,000.

“The military functions on a simple motto, adapt and overcome,” says Brett D’Alessandro, who founded BFL after serving six years in the U.S. Marines.”This holds even more weight and truth today. While we don’t know exactly what the future holds, we do know that our veterans will need your support now more than ever. As a result of COVID-19, veterans’ lives will change in many areas such as housing, employment and mental health.”

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