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NC race raises awareness to stop soldier suicide

The 10k begins at the 2019 Stop Soldier Suicide 5K/10K event early Saturday morning at South Point High School in Belmont, N.C.

MIKE HENSDILL/THE GASTON GAZETTE/TNS

By ERIC WILDSTEIN | Gaston Gazette | Published: September 21, 2019

BELMONT, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — They ran for the health and wellbeing of the military community.

The fourth annual Stop Soldier Suicide 10K/5K race started and finished at South Point High School off South Point Road. More than 300 people participated in the race in either the 10K or 5K course. A kids' fun run was also held.

The event is organized by Stop Soldier Suicide, a nonprofit organization that was founded by three U.S. Army veterans in 2010. The organization provides assistance to veterans and active duty soldiers in need. It empowers the military community by providing free resources and support in an effort to mitigate suicide risk factors, promote resiliency, inspire hope and encourage personal growth and healing.

According to the organization, 20 veterans and active duty service members take their lives every day. More than 500,000 veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD, and thousands more struggle with physical and mental health issues.

PFC Jeff Padgett, of the U.S. Army Reserves, and Sgt. Kristin Padgett of the U.S. Army National Guard, ran in the 5K and 10K, respectively. A friend of the Gastonia couple's took their own life last year, and they came to the race Saturday to show their support.

"It's such a different perspective when it's somebody that you personally know and it's just one way to show your support," said Sgt. Kristin Padgett, who served six years in the Army National Guard.

Community groups such as the Belmont-based Sons of Soldiers motorcycle club were also on hand showing their support. Several of the club's members also ran in the race.

Eugene "Wolf" Barrett founded the club in 2007 to provide assistance to military families, after seeing some of the challenges that his own father and brothers went through serving in the military.

"When you think about what this is all about, this race and what it stands for...These vets are struggling, but the community they understand it, they come here they want to run they want to race, and they're here to help support," Barrett said. "But this is something that everybody in America should understand."

For more information, contact the Stop Soldier Suicide organization

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(c)2019 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.
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Becky Bridges pushes a stroller with her 3-year-old triplets, Annabelle, J.P. and Isabelle, toward the finish line as she and more than 300 people took part in the 2019 Stop Soldier Suicide 5K/10K event early Saturday morning at South Point High School in Belmont, N.C.
MIKE HENSDILL/THE GASTON GAZETTE/TNS

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