As the ball dropped on New Year’s at Times Square in New York City, township resident Christy Tomkus was set on a specific, yet unique, resolution for 2022.
It wasn’t to lose a certain amount of weight, eat more of a certain food or learn a new hobby, all common resolutions, but to engage in more community service, especially with both active military members and veterans.
Having seen and heard first hand about veterans issues, Tomkus wanted to create positive change in her own community. So she partnered with Robert Basco – of Medford Martial Arts and Fitness – to host the first Wounded Warrior Carry Forward 5K on Sept. 10, starting and ending in front of the township police department along Union Road.
“There’s plenty of services out there for veterans, but there’s definitely still a lot more that can be done,” Tomkus said. “Medford has a pretty heavy military member population, so it was something that this community also can very easily get behind and help support.
“One of the things that was important for me in doing this was to show my kids how important it is to help service members and their families, because not everything that they suffer from is always covered,” she added. “And organizations like Wounded Warrior help cover those unexpected medical expenses.”
According to both Tomkus and Bosco, the 5K started with the goal of raising $5,000 for the Wounded Warriors nonprofit, but ended up with more than $7,000. Participants in the race fundraised on their own, with nearly 50 taking part.
Earlier this year, Tomkus raised funds and helped organize care packages for Operation Yellow Ribbon through two events, inspiring her to spearhead her own. She wants the Wounded Warrior Carry Forward 5K to be an annual effort.
“It was nice to be able to host an event like this and be able to help others as a part of the greater community as a whole,” Tomkus noted. “My husband’s been in the Air Force for over 15 years, and while such a small percentage of the country serves in the military, it felt like a great way to show support for those that risk their lives for us.”
Bosco, a master instructor in martial arts, was happy to work alongside Tomkus for the 5K, an effort to bring the community together.
“I’ve seen the physical and mental effects that veterans can come back with after protecting the freedoms that we’re allowed to have, so it really touches close to home with us,” Bosco explained.
“We’re always looking to help the community however we can, so we were happy to do something to help Operation Yellow Ribbon earlier this year,” he added. “And Christy had the great idea to do this and raise some funds in another way for Wounded Warrior, which we’re happy to have been able to be a part of.”