EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 7, 2013

Another important 'race day' in Andover

ANDOVER — About 41/2 months ago, about 10,000 people were in downtown Andover on Thanksgiving morning happy as clams, getting in a run or walk before celebrating the best holiday of the year with their families. Everyone seemed to have an extra bounce in their step.

Well, today, with about 2,000 people in downtown Andover, those same smiles will be on most everyone’s face. But the guess here is there will be an extra two bounces to everyone’s step.

Today’s “Run For The Troops 5K” is for pride. This race is for guys and gals we are deeply indebted to -—our soldiers, particularly our injured ones.

Andover resident Bill Pennington, who happened to be at a meeting when the Feaster Five was conceptualized some quarter-century ago, is at it again as the director. This race (and walk) benefits Homes for Our Troops, a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization that builds homes designed for the unique injuries of specific soldiers.

This is the third year for Run for the Troops (www.runforthetroops5k.com). Proceeds from today’s race and dinner on Friday night will go towards building a home for Marine Cpl. Kevin Dubois, who was injured in 2011 while clearing a helicopter landing zone in Afghanistan.

Last year’s race helped build a home for Marine Sgt. Josh Bouchard, who moved into his new home in Granby this past January. The year before, the race supported Army Sgt. Joseph Smith and his new home in Thomasville, N.C.

But for Pennington, it isn’t about bringing in dollars for domiciles. It’s more about building memories and morale than anything, he said.

“How do you put a price-tag on when Josh Bouchard’s mother comes off the bus and sees what’s being done for her son?” Pennington said. “We hope to create these memories for the next Josh Bouchard, for Kevin, when his wife comes up to see what the Merrimack Valley is doing for her husband.

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