Freedom Steps is not just a 5k walk/run where a group of avid runners and walkers get together for a stroll. This event is a heartfelt tribute to those men and women who are on the front lines defending our country and the freedoms we hold so dear. Each and every person who coordinates this event and most of the participants know someone who is either currently serving or who has served in the armed forces.
The Willow Grove VFW Post 3612 held Freedom Steps for the first time in September 2008. The post had received a PA state grant that they decided to use for an event to benefit soldiers, especially those that are currently serving overseas. The Willow Grove VFW has a close connection with active troops including their adoption of the 111th Fighter Wing stationed at the Willow Grove JNAS. So it only made sense to them to host an event that would benefit soldiers in our community who are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan protecting the freedoms that we hold so near and dear to our hearts.
Freedom Steps was created to raise awareness for those soldiers deployed overseas who do not have the comforts of being at home. The money raised from this event is used to purchase supplies and basic necessities that the soldiers do not have access to or just miss because they are not stateside. Over the last two years we have worked closely with local businesses and Upper Moreland Parks and Recreation to create a successful event. Our first event, in September 2008, had approximately 45 participants and 20 volunteers. We were able to raise approximately $3000 to purchase needed supplies and sent over 20 boxes to contact soldiers stationed throughout Iraq. Our second event, held in May 2009, had approximately 75 participants and 20 volunteers. From this event, we were able to raise over $3500 and we sent 15 boxes to soldiers that distributed the supplies to close to 200 other soldiers stationed throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is our goal to mail these supplies and goodies to the troops in hopes that a “little taste of home” brings a smile to their face. We hope to make this event bigger each year and reach out to more soldiers so that they know people here in the states support and care about them.