More than 50 complete debut 5K on Veterans Day in Medina

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Runners are on their way in the first 5K Veterans’ Day race to benefit local veterans. More than 50 runners and walkers participated in the event which began at the Junior Wilson’s Sportsmen’s Club on Bates Road.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 11 November 2018 at 9:24 pm

MEDINA – For a first-time event, co-organizers Jen Thom and Sarah Levandowski-Surdel are pretty happy about the success of the Veterans’ Day 5K they planned.

Jenn Thom, whose husband Doug is a veteran, is also founder of Operation Honor, which sponsored the race with proceeds going to the Warrior House on Salt Works Road.

Thom said she and her husband have lost friends who are veterans and know there could be more assistance for veterans in Orleans County.

Earl Schmidt, director of the Orleans County Veteran’s Service Council, stands with Sarah Levandowski-Surdel and Jenn Thom, co-organizers of the first Veterans’ Day 5K run, prior to the start of the race on Sunday morning. The event was sponsored by Operation Honor, a 501 3c organization founded by Thom to raise money to help local veterans.

Orleans County Joint Veterans Agency director Earl Schmidt said his office does a good job in dealing with local, state and federal veterans’ benefits, but things like donating to the Warrior House or helping a vet with a utility bill is something they can’t do.

Corinne Hill of Medina, a student at Medina High School, was the first female to cross the finish line in Medina’s first Veterans’ Day 5K race.

“The more services we can provide for veterans, the better,” Schmidt said. “Jenn is doing something that’s never been done in Orleans County before.”

When all the receipts were tallied, Thom reported they had raised $2,500 for the Warrior House. In addition, $500 in Carhartt gift cards, which were donated by the New York State Corrections Officers and Police Benevolent Association, were given to the Warrior House for veterans to buy outdoor goods.

The Warrior House’s owner Pete Zeliff Jr. wants to donate a vehicle to a veteran in need and is looking for referrals of deserving veterans.

Anyone who knows of a veteran who needs a vehicle and can’t afford one can call (585) 590-0278 or log on to the Warrior House’s website at

Thom said 51 runners and walkers participated in Sunday’s race and she is ecstatic at the turnout and the money they raised.

The first male to cross the finish line was Jay Heideman, 14, a ninth-grader at Royalton-Hartland School, with a time of 21:23.

The first female was Corinne Hill of Medina with a time of 25:07.

Both teens are members of the cross country teams at their schools.

Christian Held of Middleport decided to run the race in observance of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The cross country coach at Medina High School, Held said the war ended in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Thom already knows who next year’s race will benefit. She has promised profits will go to the Orleans Joint Veterans’ Agency’s van service, which provides free transportation to veterans for medical appointments.

Jay Heideman, 14, held off a challenge by Rich Hartway to win the first Veterans’ Day 5K race sponsored by Operation Honor to support veterans. Jay crossed the finish line in 21 minutes and 23 seconds.

Jenn Thom, left, and Sarah-Levandowski-Surdel, right, present American flags to the winners of the first Veterans’ Day 5K race Sunday at Junior Wilson’s Sportsmen’s Club. Jay Heideman from Roy-Hart was the first male to cross the finish line and Corinne Hill of Medina was female winner.

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