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May 17. 2013 10:00AM

Inaugural 'Salute Our Soldiers' 5K and fundraiser Saturday in Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH - Dignitaries and heroes will celebrate Armed Forces Day at the first annual 'Salute Our Soldiers' fundraiser Saturday, with proceeds to benefit the Seacoast Chapter of Veterans Count.

Veterans Count is a program of Easter Seals NH dedicated to helping active duty military and their families, as well as veterans. Ninety-five cents of every dollar raised for Veterans Count goes directly to serving those who have served their country, according to Easter Seals.


The fundraiser was organized by Portsmouth resident Darci Knowles and is sponsored by Service Credit Union. It is being held at Service Credit Union's headquarters, 3003 Lafayette Road, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. A cash bar will open at 6 p.m. and hors d'oeuvres will be served before dinner, which begins at 7 p.m.


Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., are scheduled to speak beginning at 8 p.m. along with Admiral Mike Mullen, (ret.), former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Col. Danny McKnight (ret.), whose military career included combat duty in Somalia in 1993, and former Tuskegee airman James Sheppard.
 
Rep. Carol Shea Porter, D-N.H., also plans to attend along with more than 60 veterans who have served from World War II up through present conflicts.

A full day of activities are planned. A 5K Road Race and a "Pack & Boots" race on the Service Credit Union grounds stars at 9 a.m. Participants in the "Pack & Boots" race will carry 10 percent of their body weight in a pack and boots for a 2.2 mile race to simulate the weight soldiers carry in the field.


Service Credit Union got its start on Pease Air Force Base serving active duty military members and has continued to actively support the military and veterans as it has grown to branches around New Hampshire and in Germany.


Karen Benedetti, vice-president of marketing, said the bank's new headquarters pays homage to its beginnings at Pease so is a perfect venue to celebrate veterans. The credit union will be announcing a multi-year financial donation to Veterans Count during Saturday's event, she said.


"We do a tremendous amount of community giving focused on those who have served. It is a way of honoring them," Benedetti said. So, she said, supporting Veterans Count seemed like a perfect fit.


"They are a very noteworthy organization," she said.


The evening fundraising event is black tie optional. Tickets are $150 each. Information about tickets and about the road race are available at www.vetscount.org.



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