As the old saying goes, “Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” On Saturday, August 22, a team of Buffalo State volunteers took that expression literally, went several miles further, and helped raise support, awareness, and remembrance for local veterans.
A 10-person Buffalo State “platoon” earned first place in their division at the annual KIA Memorial Road March held at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park, NY. Founded by veteran and alumnus Jason Jaskula, ’96, the march challenges walkers to follow a 10K-route while carrying backpacks containing 50 or more pounds of canned goods. The donations are handed over to veterans in need through local food pantries, including the Buffalo State Food Pantry, after the event.
"I was honored to join Buffalo State's Student Veterans of America and fellow colleagues for such an important cause,” said Daniel Velez, associate vice president for student success. “Thanks to Intercollegiate Athletics for sponsoring the students on our team, and special thanks to Wegmans for donating 400 pounds of food."
While designed to honor the armed forces, the march was open to all.
“I was the only civilian on our team and will confess that it was tough,” said Kim Jablonski, assistant director for mandated programs at Weigel Health Center. “Seeing the names of 315 fallen veterans on the signs along the course kept me going. Getting high-fives and cheers from the Gold Star Mothers [mothers who have lost sons or daughters in the war] at the finish line was my proudest moment.”
The Buffalo State team carried more than 550 pounds of food at the march. More than 14,000 pounds of food were raised for veterans and their families through the event.
The Buffalo State team included Sara Andrew, Mike Barber, Jon Battison, James "Willens" Budu, Jablonski, Gerard McIntyre, Sean Sherry, Tony Torcello, Velez, and Matt Welch.
Theresa Stephan Hains, director of Weigel Health Center, also participated in the march. Stephan Hains represented both Buffalo State and Team Captain America, which honored Army Captain John Levulis, of Eden, NY.
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