The Marine Raider Foundation will host its annual Seaside Semper Five 5K/1-mile fun run along the Seaside Heights boardwalk tomorrow, Sept. 16. Registration and check-in will begin at 7 a.m., the 1-mile fun run starts at 9 a.m. and the 5K run/walk starts at 9:30 a.m.
Thirty Gold Star Families were honored, including late Moorestown resident Maj. John P. Pryor, who was killed on Dec. 25, 2008, in Mosul, Iraq. He was a member of the 1st Medical Detachment, Forward Surgical Team based out of Fort Totten, New York.
This year’s run marked Seaside Semper Five’s 10th anniversary. According to the Marine Raider Foundation’s website, the event originated in 2014 to benefit the nonprofit itself. Semper Five supports Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), Marines and sailors, World War II Marine Raiders who are ill or were injured and Marine Raider families whose loved ones died during their service.
“To have people from Moorestown … We’re a good way’s off in Seaside, but we must have had 30 people from our little community that have supported it (the run) this year,” said Frank Costello, race director and Moorestown resident.
“It’s a large number, and most of the people here are senior citizens,” he added. “Some of them will come down and walk, a couple will run, and I would say a lot of the people just walk and support. But a lot of them are serious runners, too.”
The Seaside Semper Five was held virtually at the nonprofit’s Kabul, Afghanistan, embassy for eight years, until American forces left the country. It has also happened virtually at five other U.S. embassies: Kigali, Rwanda; Bangkok, Thailand; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Bogota, Columbia; and Baghdad, Iraq.
According to the foundation, over the past decade, participants from all over the world – 27 states and four U.S. embassies – have made the Seaside Semper Five one of the largest 5K/1-mile events in the state, empowering the foundation to provide its military with support for needs unmet by the government and other agencies.
The run has raised more than $375,000 since 2014.
“All the money goes to support Marines and sailors who have been either killed or seriously injured defending our country, and that’s what … all their (the foundation’s) money does,” Costello said of the Seaside Semper Five. He also described honoring the Gold Star Families as something special.
“That’s going to be pretty emotional …” he acknowledged. “We’re going to put pictures of them (the honorees) 10 feet apart, and they’ll all be surrounded by American flags on both sides.”
Since its inception the Marine Raider Foundation has provided more than $7 million in support to its military members and their families. Its four main programs are: Raider Support, including transition assistance, funding for award ceremonies and receptions, and funding for events that focus on personal and professional resiliency; Family Resiliency Support, including assisting Raider families experiencing health and welfare challenges and with events that enhance personal and family resiliency; Tragedy Assistance and Survivor Support, including assistance for wounded, ill and injured Raiders, Gold Star families and funeral services and commemorations for MARSOC personnel; and Raider Legacy and Preservation Support, including construction and upkeep of memorial structures and commemorative items, as well as funding for events that commemorate WWII and MARSOC Raiders.
“What people say is how patriotic they feel participating, and that’s a phrase that’s repeated many times,” Costello observed of the run. “You’ve got flags all along the boardwalk, and every year we have about 16 Marines that come from McGuire Air Force Base (Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst) and they run carrying the American flag. And they’ve got the race shirts on and everybody always cheers when they come.”
For more information on the Seaside Semper Five or the Marine Raider Foundation, visit https://marineraiderfoundation.org.