Parents, brothers, sisters and children came out to support veterans on Sunday, Nov. 8 for the Gamma Zeta chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma All-American 5K Walk/Run, which started out in S-Lot and ran through south campus.
The race was organized by West Chester University’s Phi Sigma Sigma in tandem with their local philanthropy, David’s Drive 831. At the helm of the event was Phi Sigma Sigma’s philanthropy chair, Kayla Foster.
“David’s Drive 831 is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of hospitalized and homeless veterans in the Coatesville, Pa. area,” said Foster. “DD831 was created in honor of David Turner Jr., who was very passionate towards helping veterans.”
Turner passed away suddenly of a suspected heart arrhythmia at the age of 20. Turner’s sister Sam is an alum of Phi Sigma Sigma and was a member during his passing, and ,thus, as a chapter, they adopted DD831 to support her family and to honor his memory.
Caroline McGowan, President of Phi Sigma Sigma, outlined the nobility of David’s mission.
“[Turner] had worked at the Coatesville VA Medical Center and had a tremendous respect for the veterans he served,” said McGowan. “Many were homeless, in early recovery, and came to the hospital without essentials. [Turner] had a vision to provide these veterans with these items.”
According to McGowan, she was “so proud to continue [Turner’s] mission.”
“We are helping veterans because we should. These men and women sacrificed so much for us and our country,” said McGowan. “They deserve to have what they need to live a comfortable life, and if that means we have to raise money or hold clothing drives, then we will do it.”
McGowan contributed the “huge success” of the walk/run to their families, friends, and the Turner family.
Phi Sigma Sigma’s goal was to raise awareness for the need for aid for veterans in our area and to raise funds in order to make a distinct impact in the lives of veterans.
McGowan hopes that the community continues to serve David’s Drive 831 and the community’s veterans.
Foster worked hard to organize the second annual event, and she was delightfully surprised at the turnout, overall success and support from families and the community.
“I was truly surprised how well the event went. I never imagined it going so well,” said Foster. “I was on constant contact with the Turners throughout the semester with details about the race and things they wanted to improve [from last year].”
In addition, Foster said, “I knew it would all be worth it, but having Mr. and Mrs. Turner constantly come up to me throughout the event, thanking me, hugging me, and being so appreciative made putting the event together so much more worth it.”
Foster was “so thrilled that people were enjoying themselves” at the event.
“I had so many different people come up to me, thanking me and saying how wonderful the event went, and I was just glad I was able to make a day dedicated to not only supporting our veterans, but also honoring the memory of David Turner.”
Foster added that her Phi Sigma Sigma sisters were the people behind her who supported and constantly encouraged her throughout the semester and the days leading up to the event.
Her sisters, too, were surprised at the turnout and reception of the event.
“Kayla organized everything. She really did an amazing job,” said Olivia Grossman. “[This] was a really great event. This is our second annual one, and it really took off this year. It also registered a lot with the sisters, and especially their families. There are so many people that have veterans in their families, and people affected by this philanthropy.”
Kelley Claffey was “very proud because so many people, local philanthropy and community members came out to support us and our cause.”
Brooke Stewart, new to Phi Sigma Sigma this year, worked the T-shirt stand and was able to sell many All-American 5K T-shirts to the parents, brothers, sisters and children that participated, volunteered, or just came out to support.
The walk/run itself began at 9:45 a.m., and the route ran through WCU’s south campus. There were prizes and raffles, and prizes for placing first, second, and so on.
One of the moms involved that qualifies for the Olympics finished first, so she won a gift card for the Iron Hill Brewery. Other raffle prizes included Couch Tomato gift cards and Fitbit baskets.
Foster concluded that it was an enjoyable morning.
“It was filled with laughter and fun, where families and friends came together to support a common goal of helping our veterans,” said Foster.
For anyone looking for more information on David’s Drive 831 or Phi Sigma Sigma, Foster can be reached at KF803787@wcupa.edu. McGowan can be reached at CM773359@wcupa.edu.
Aidan Paggao is a third-year student majoring in marketing with a minor in international business. He can be reached at AP814179@wcupa.edu.