By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
A break in the weather was needed April 12 for the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club’s inaugural 5k run/walk that was held at Fort Knox’s Keyes Park.
Staff Sgt. Candice Funchess, the SAMC 5k run/walk co-lead, said the idea for the run was borne out of club’s pillars.
“One of our pillars is community service and another pillar is giving back to the youth and working with kids,” explained Funchess. “We sat down and said we would do a scholarship (run) and give back to the kids. We decided to do (this for the kids on) Fort Knox and Hardin County.”
Eight students submitted applications and each student had to have at least a GPA of 2.5 and a letters of community service. Sgt. 1st Class Amber Nacis, the SAMC 5k run/walk co-lead, said the club was looking for students who not only excelled in the classroom but who also participated in extracurricular activities and gave back to the community.
“(We were looking for) a high school (student) who could do more than just for themselves,” said Nacis. “We really looked hard at students (who) were active in the community, extracurricular activities such as sport which mimic SAMC.”
Funchess said the applicants had to be high school seniors and dependents of active duty or retired Soldiers. Nacis said also ensured most of the total money raised would be used for scholarships and the remaining would pay their bills.
“(The rest was) set aside as a starting point for next year to make (the run/walk) bigger and better,” Nacis said.
Funchess pointed out that the run/walk also coincided with the Month of the Military Child and the club wanted to ensure they were also celebrating military children. In addition to awarding two scholarships they had a bounce house, face painting and a balloon artist.
“We tried to bring more in for the kids,” Funchess said. “So when we said bigger and better (we mean) more advertising and (trying) to get more people. The more you get the community involved with what’s going on, not only (is it) better for our installation but for our children. So that’s bigger and better for us.”
The morning began with 196 registrants and prior to the run Nacis said there were 246 participants in the run/walk.
Prior to starting the run the John Hardin High School color guard posted the colors and Billie-Jean Smith sand the national anthem.
Cadet Command and Fort Knox Command Sgt. Maj. Roger Howard provided the opening remarks. He told the runners and walkers that a lot was said about this being the first SAMC and Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention Program partnership for a scholarship run.
“The SAMC president, vice president and SHARP had this idea to come together (and) the intent was (award) one scholarship, (but they are going to award) two,” said Howard. “Thank you for coming out to help raise money for our kids at Fort Knox.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Marcus Robinson, the command sergeant major for Garrison Command, said it was a great day for a run.
“I will be following (Command) Sgt. Maj. Howard to make sure he doesn’t fall out,” he said jokingly before the run.
After the run and the students were awarded their scholarship money, Funchess said she hoped the community understood the importance of SAMC awarding the scholarships.
“We are giving to these kids by showing the community this is what we did with the money,” she said. “It’s all about helping our children continue their education. This is such a big event to give back to the children. So next year we hope more people come out and support us and (the event) continues to grow. We want to make this (an) annual (event).”
Nacis said she wants to make sure the community remains involved and understands SAMC is serious about helping and supporting Fort Knox and Hardin County students.
“Whatever we can do whether it’s a jump house for a bunch of little kids or a scholarship for graduating seniors, we’re here for them and we want to continue to support children of military Families,” Nacis said.
Even though Funchess and Nacis believe the event will grow in years to come, they said it’s not about the dollar amount being awarded.
“It’s about the quantity,” Funchess said. “Like Sabrina Wicker, the Fort Knox recipient said, the price of college is raising every year, so every little bit helps. Next year we want to open it up to dependents in Meade County and in the Louisville area.”