Citadel Marines gearing up for Cooper River Bridge Run
Members of The Citadel’s Naval ROTC detachment will run the Cooper River Bridge Run this spring to raise awareness of the financial needs of Marines wounded in Iraq.
The Marine contingent of the ROTC detachment announced their plans today. Marine instructors, active duty Marines who are Citadel students and cadets who will be commissioned as Marine officers after graduating will run the bridge run in full military gear, including 55-pound backpacks and boots. They hope to raise money for wounded Marines and their families.
"Once you put on the Marine Corps uniform, it’s not about you anymore; it’s about the Marines you serve,” said Maj. Steve Pritchard, Marine office instructor at The Citadel. “In our capacity we are looking to educate our students on selfless service to their local community and their nation.”
How to help
If you would like to support Citadel Marines’ efforts to raise money for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, please make a check payable to IMSFF and in the MEMO line write “Cooper River Bridge Run.” Checks should be mailed to The Citadel Naval ROTC Unit, C/O Capt. Matthew Kutilek, 171 Moultrie St., Charleston, SC 29409.
Each of the wounded Marines told a packed Jenkins Hall auditorium how the Semper Fi Fund helped them and their families after they were injured in Iraq - from plane tickets for family member to visit them in the hospital to paying household expenses. The Semper Fi Fund's original task was to bring families and Marines together during the recovery process. Today the organization does far more. It can also help purchase special equipment, like wheelchairs, and renovate Marines' homes so they are accessible to the disabled.
Wendy Lethin of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund said today that $8 million is assistance has been provided.
"Everyday we are finding new needs and new, creative ways to help," she said. "But every day we find new needs for donations."
Marines and Marine contract cadets will train all over Charleston in distinctive red T-shirts and 55-pound back packs. They will wear the same gear for the bridge run, which is Saturday, March 31.
"U.S. Marines take care of each other," said Junior Marine Instructor Capt. Matt Kutilek. "People will say we're crazy. We say the least we can do is run the bridge run with a 55-pound pack."
The fundraising effort for wounded Marines is just one of the many ways Marines at The Citadel are helping people through community service. This academic year alone they have:
- Raised $1,000 at the Leatherneck Racquetball Tournament for the IMSFF.
- Renovated Charleston Collegiate Academy baseball field and media center.
- Isle of Palms Beach Cleanup.
- Donated 3,000 cans of food and food baskets to Crisis Ministries for needy Lowcountry families at Thanksgiving.
- Collected over 150 toys for Toys for Tots.
- Adopted a woman raising three children. The last-minute adoption meant the Angel Tree family was not forgotten at Christmas.
- Prepared and handed out food to homeless at Crisis Ministries.
- Helped renovate and landscaped the grounds at Dee Martin Children's Center.
- Collected $5,280 for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
"There are times when every person needs a helping hand. We consider it an honor to know that people can turn to us when they fall on unfortunate times,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Eckerfield, an active duty Marine student and president of the Semper Fi Society on campus. "It is a tremendous privilege to see how the efforts of the Marines here at The Citadel can make such an impact in helping members of our community.”