Cadets run from Newark to Houston in 15 days to spread awareness
It would take 22 hours to drive the approximately 1,500 miles from Newark to Houston but those numbers were not daunting to a group of university and ROTC cadets who made the trip. They did not, however, get to Houston by plane, train or automobile.
The cadets planned the 15 day journey, which took place from July 26 to Aug. 9 in an effort to raise funds and awareness for their own nonprofit, Reviresco.
Junior David Dinerman says that the idea for Reviresco came to junior Micah Petersen, a cadet at West Point who will soon be transferring back to the university. Petersen found out that Houston––his hometown––was the most popular place for veterans to retire.
“Micah called me, and he always had a passion to help veterans,” Dinerman says. “With less people serving in the military, there is a greater misunderstanding [of] what the military stands for and a lack of knowledge about the struggle that veterans go through, as well as a lack of knowledge [about] civilian responsibility.”
From there, the gears began turning in the cadets’ heads.
“We were thinking, ‘How can we support this cause?,’” Dinerman says. “We thought that we are at UD, in the first state and first entity the military had to defend, and we wanted to connect Houston, which is the final destination for veterans,” Dinerman says.
With that, Dinerman and Petersen, along with junior cadets Joe Erony, Todd Thorp, as well as sophomore cadets Andrew Major, Alex Chiodo and Matthew Rojas, came up with the idea for the run.
The main goal of the run was to raise awareness about the civilian military gap that exists, as well as to raise funds for Team Red, White and Blue and Got Your 6, all organizations that support veterans as they reintegrate into civilian life, Dinerman says.
The word “Reviresco” is a Latin word that means “to renew,” which is directly related to the goals of the nonprofit, Thorp says.
When it was time to decide what they would do to bring awareness to their mission, the cadets knew it had to be something that grabbed people’s attention.
“If we drove or we just tried doing it from one central location, people wouldn’t be as interested,” Chiodo says. “But if they see us running on the streets from Delaware to Texas, they would be like, ‘Wow, these guys are actually doing something and making a difference.’ So it’s putting an action to the fundraiser and getting people excited.”
The run was the starting point of many conversations, a tool the cadets used to get people interested, Major says.
The cadets ran the distance in a relay style, with some running together and the others in an RV behind them, Thorp says.
Traveling from Newark to Houston had its risky moments, which entailed running on tight road shoulders next to traffic and in the dark. In Maryland, the cadets asked for a police escort to follow them while they ran to make for a safer trip, which caused a chain reaction through the other states, Chiodo says.
The cadets also made sure to take advantage of the high population of people in the cities they ran through.
“We hit at least one major city in every state,” Dinerman says. “Our mission in each was to spread the word to as many people as we could, and there are a lot more people in these cities.”
All of the cadets agreed that they would not have been successful without two people––Petersen’s father, Timm Petersen, who remained with them throughout the trip, and Rojas, who did not participate in the run but whom the cadets compared to NASA’s Mission Control.
Support along the way kept the cadets motivated.
“We had cross-country teams, friends of ours and all together we knew a lot of people along our route,” Major says. “The hospitality we received was unbelievable.”
Despite the long distance, not all of the cadets were always avid runners.
“Before I joined the program, I hated running,” Chiodo says. “After ROTC and this run, I don’t mind. I kind of like it.”
Currently, the cadets know they want to do another run. Although they are not yet sure of the details, they do know that it is important to continue raising awareness.
“Back during the world wars, everyone would definitely know people that would be in [the] army,” Major says. “Now, about one or less than one percent of people is in the military, and that’s why the gap is being created.”
The cadets even created a hashtag that they used throughout their journey.
“#cadets4vets,” they say in unison.