Racers take off as walkers take a stand

Sydney Thompson, 4, cheers for her dad Staff Sgt. Paul Thompson as he races to the finish line during the “Tank Corps Joe” 5K on Saturday. The race was part of the Fort Meade Run Series. (Photos by Nicole Munchel)

On a chilly Saturday morning, Fort Meade service members and civilians from on and off post turned out for a 5K run in honor of a beloved Army mascot and a 1-mile walk in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Christina Sharpe of the National Security Agency runs with her dog Pippa.

The “Tank Corps Joe” 5K at the Pavilion was part of the annual Fort Meade Run Series, while walkers bearing purple signs took a stand against domestic violence.

The gold medalists with the best run time overall for the male and female categories were Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Lutz, with a time of 20.55, and Ruth Franks, who finished at 23.59.

“There was a great turnout,” Lutz said. “Although the weather could have been a little warmer, the win was enjoyable.”

Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard, who stood alongside Remy, his pet dog, came out to support Fort Meade’s 100th anniversary run series. More than 160 people registered for the 5K.

“We dedicated the run and celebrated our 100th-year anniversary for Tank Corps Joe,” Rickard said. “The run series is a big part of our post, and it’s a part of a healthy lifestyle.”

Tank Corps Joe was a beloved dog that manned the 66th Infantry’s light tanks in 1923 at Fort Meade, the original home of the Army armored tank corps. Joe was the Army’s only tank-riding dog. After he died in 1937 at the post hospital, the entire 66th Infantry honored him with a military formation and a procession of tanks.

“Walk Away” walkers wear a purple Domestic Violence Awareness Month sign.

The nine domestic violence awareness walkers distinguished themselves from the 5K runners with the sign “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” in purple lettering.

“We need to stop abuse,” said Dana Acho, a health benefits advisor at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center. “To bring about awareness, we need to make sure we continue to do things like this, along with having more classes and ongoing discussions for all that are in need of help.”

Rossana Williams, 50, had a dual purpose in attending the event. She participated in the run simply for the joy of running and to also help raise awareness for domestic violence awareness.

“Domestic violence is all around us,” Williams said. “I believe education is key. Having places for people to go who are battered and abused and creating different avenues for them to get the help that they need is very important.”

During the 5K awards ceremony, both Lutz and Franks also received a book bag and water bottle along with their gold medals. Not only did Franks come in first for the female group overall, but she did it while pushing her children in a double stroller.

“My win was unexpected,” said Franks, 30. “I’ve never raced pushing my double stroller, but I figured I’d give it a whirl today to see what I could do.”

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