On April 17 at Iroquois High School, the 5th annual Laps for Limbs event was hosted by D’Youville College SVA (Students Veterans Association) and supported by Daemen College SVA, Niagara University SVA, Team RWB (Red, White, Blue Organization) and the Lancaster Leadership Academy. The event was in honor of Captain Sydney L. Cole, an Army pilot during World War II. The 1069 laps that were completed raised nearly $4000 for veterans and children with amputations. All funds were split between Camp No Limits and the local Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
“It is important to give back to the community. Vets are always looking to be part of the community. People want to help. Vets want to help,” said Justin Roehner, D’Youville SVA and psychology major.
The event started with a victory lap around the track led by Cole as the other organizations followed. Cole is 101 years old and is the oldest veteran in Western New York. He was a prisoner of war for over a year during World War II.
“I had to kick my copilot out of the plane when we got shot, because he was afraid. He landed in U.S. territory. This caused me to land in German territory. I knew once I landed I needed to get rid of my dog tags because I was Jewish. If the Germans knew that they would shoot me on the spot. I lived off of grass, soup and crackers as a POW. I was 150 pounds when I went in, I came out 85 pounds,” recalled Cole.
In addition to Cole’s Prisoner of War Medal, he has been awarded with three Purple Heart medals, the Bronze Star, the Caterpillar Club medal and the Air medal.
Cole made several laps around the track that day.
“Freedom is not free. Vets put their lives on the line for this country. We need more events like this,” said Cole.
The snack table and registration was operated by Lancaster Leadership Academy members Derrick Hanitz, Connor Carrow, Kara Paradowski, Olivia Gervan and Maria Pacos. They handed out T-shirts, racer bibs and donation sheets. They help provide water and brownies to the racers.
“One of our teacher’s daughter is running, so we came out to support her. We need to support our vets for all they have done for us,” said Hanitz.
“It is especially amazing to meet the Vets who help build our country,” said Carrow.
Helping to collect the donations was Team RWB.
“Events like this help raise awareness. Helps veterans and their families with life. Most people are not aware of what our vets need. We take for granted that we can walk and run,” said Kristen Babin, volunteer with Team RWB.
Since the initial event in 2012, this event has raised over $30,000 and 1276 miles have been completed.
“This event shows that vets are a borderless community that is supported by a brotherhood and sisterhood. We support our fellow veterans no matter what organization. Being a veteran organization comes with responsibilities of being a part of the veteran community and supporting events like Laps for Limbs,” said Tom Sprague, Daemen College SVA President.