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Frequently veterans who come home from military service overseas suffer with the difficult, but common, condition of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a torturing reminder of the hardships and trials they encountered while in the combat zone. 1pet-1vet,  a non-for-profit organization based in Cedar Lake, in helping veterans who suffer from this debilitating illness by providing service dogs for them.

Andrew Hasty is a veteran liaison for 1pet-1vet, and a Marine who was deployed twice to Afghanistan. Hasty knows how important the organization is for the community in combating the negative effects of war on individuals.

“Essentially, the purpose of 1pet-1vet is to save two different lives”, he explained. “The first life save is the veteran’s. The vet is coping with PTSD or hardships that come with having served in a combat zone overseas. The second life that we save is the dog’s that also needs an owner and someone that will take care of him or her. So our organization is able to find a match and help two people at once.”

On September 12th, The Orthopaedic Specialists of Northwest Indiana (OSNI) hosted their first ever annual 5K run to raise funds for 1pet-1vet at Centennial Park in Munster. Charity events are not uncommon for OSNI, which is very active in the community, and very active with charities.

Dr. Nitin Khanna, who specializes in spine treatment, is a physician from OSNI who was critical to the formation of the 5K run and the idea of helping the veterans.

“We always want to take part in local charities as a way to give back and show our support for the community," he said. “1pet-1vet met all the criteria for this, they’re a local charity from Cedar Lake and they do a great thing, helping struggling veterans and dogs. We definitely plan on doing this same event annually.”

Another physician from OSNI, Dr. Dwight Tyndall, who also specializes in spine care, explained his take on the event and its importance.

“This event, for us, is a way of giving back for the benefit of the community”, he said. “Because the people this charity benefits are the fabric of the local community. Also, in a patriotic sense, we decided to support this particular charity for veterans on the day after the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, in a patriotic sense. Because a lot of people this will help, suffer from PTSD from wars resulting from the 9/11 attacks in 2001.”

Meghan Mellis is the practice coordinator for OSNI and has been involved in the planning of this race for four months now. She took on a prominent role in organizing the many facets of the 5K run and coordinating the schedule for the day's activities. 

“The main reason for this event is to raise awareness for this organization by an event that encourages movement and exercise, because OSNI promotes a healthy lifestyle," she said. “This gives a great chance to get out into the community, and that’s great. We plan on continuing the event in the future and making it bigger and better each year.”

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Mellis explained that this is important for 1pet-1vet because of federal legal purposes concerning taxes, as well as raising money and awareness of the cause.

“This particular charity is awaiting their 501-C3 determination, which is an IRS designation which legally makes a non-for-profit organization tax-exempt, so we want to give them recognition, as well, to help them," she said.

On the morning of the race, dozens of people gathered under the pavilion at Centennial Park. Though the weather was cold and very rainy, with a chilly wind, it did not hinder the approximately 60 to runners who showed up, stretched, and ran the full length of the 5K race.

Jeff Trambacki of Dyer was the runner to finish the race in first place despite the rough weather conditions for running.

“I got involved in the race because one of my roommate’s friends is involved with the organization, and I was asked to run”, he said. “I feel really good, the race felt good, too. Plus, it is always good to do something like this for charity.”

Shannon Reynolds of St. John came in second and shared her thoughts about the race: “With all the raining it was hard to find the arrows, but the race itself, felt really fulfilling”, she said. “I love to run and I run very often, and when my mom, who works for the organization, told me about the race, I was excited to sign up for it.”

Dennis Reynolds, who was the third runner to complete the race, reaffirms the thoughts of the other runners.

“The race felt great, I run a lot of races so I was happy to be able to sign up for this particular one”, he said. “The best part about it is that the whole thing helps such a great charity that in turn helps out people who deserve our respect and help when needed, our veterans. So because they give the vets a dog and betters both their lives, this gave me a great reason to participate today.”

After the runners had finished the race, a complimentary lunch was provided along with free water bottles from the sponsors. Soon after, OSNI presented a check of $5400 to 1pet-1vet and organization representatives expressed their deep thanks and gratitude for the donation and assured the sponsors and runners that the money would be a significant help to benefit Northwest Indiana veterans.

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