Step Up for the Brave fundraiser raises thousands for veterans nonprofit
One Bridgeport nonprofit got the community to step up for veterans Saturday morning - literally.
More than 400 people took the stairs around Total Mortgage Arena for the ninth annual Homes for the Brave fitness challenge, raising $100,000 for Homes for the Brave.
“It enables us to provide the clinical, vocational services at our walk-in, drop-in veterans service center in downtown Bridgeport for veterans and their family members,” Homes for the Brave CEO Vince Santilli said.
“It lets me know that there’s a huge amount of support that we don’t normally see on a daily basis,” outreach case manager and veteran Moises Ortega said.
Over the years, Homes for the Brave has provided more than 1,500 people with shelter, meals, job training and more.
“The numbers have increased,” Ortega said. “A lot of family members just need guidance. They don't understand how the veterans benefits work, or their veteran passed away, and they don't understand that they have a benefit they don't know about. So, that's where I come in."
And here’s where the racers come in.
Each lap was more than a half mile, and some 500 steps. The winners ran more than a half-marathon and 10,000 steps.
“I’ll always voluntarily do a little bit of suffering for our men and women overseas,” race winner Conner Hoffman said. “It’s the least I can do to show some support."
“It is a vigorous workout,” Santilli said.
Everyone has a different reason to race.
“I have some family members in the military,” Hoffman said.
“My dad was a World War Two combat veteran who died a service-connected death when I was a teenager,” Santilli said.
“It’s to get that hope back into their system that a lot of us forgot about,” Ortega said.
“We wouldn't be able to do what we do without what our veterans did for us,” board president John Vazzano said.
“This is not just a job - it’s a mission for me,” Santilli said.
You can find out more about the organization and donate here.