The “Really Close to Almost Together 5K Virtual Challenge”

Virtual 5K Challenge – from Potomac to Pacific

In deference to the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular annual color run is taking on an exciting new format that may be more appealing than ever to participants.

This year people can accumulate their miles over a period of weeks through a variety of activities: walking, running, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming or even walking the dog. 

Kickoff is June 27

The event begins June 27, which coincides with PTSD Awareness Day. And, entrants have until Oct. 4 to log their total mileage. The finale date correlates with the conclusion of the 2020 session of the This Able Veterans’ Refresher Training for previous veteran/service dog teams from the program.

A Facebook Live event will conclude the virtual challenge and will serve a dual purpose. It will celebrate the end of this year’s event and acknowledge all who participated and celebrate the veterans and their canine partners. It also gives the veterans an opportunity to thank some of the donors who have made their service dogs possible.

Sign up now

Although everyone won’t be able to come together for one big fun run this year, we are still excited to bring people together virtually to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress and show veterans that there IS hope.

Register anytime now through September 7 to participate. 

Interactive experience

Organizers will be creating an ongoing and interactive experience throughout the weeks the Virtual Challenge is taking place.

According to This Able Veteran’s events director, Alicia Ruiz, participation in the interactive experience is optional, but encouraged. “Social connection and exercise are always important for good health, but they are even more important now. We hope this provides an opportunity for people to engage and participate in whatever way works best for them right now.”

We’ll be sharing photos and videos of This Able Veteran trainers and veterans and encouraging participants to share their own photos and videos.

Mapping it out

This Able Veteran is reaching out across the country, connecting with people who aren’t typically able to come to the local event and hoping to get even more people to join in this year’s virtual event. Organizers are utilizing new tools offered by RunSignUp for the virtual format and they’ve created a Google map that will notate the various locales from which participants hail and also include markers with photos of some of the This Able Veteran trainers, veterans and service dogs at veterans memorial sites across the country.

In order to foster the sense of unity that is typically part of the color run, a group challenge has been added, too. Each participant is asked to just log the usual “almost 5K (3 miles).” But each participant’s activity will be added to the group tally.

The hope is that when all of the miles are aggregated from all of the participants, it will span the country, from the Potomac to the Pacific – 2,634 miles. Watch the website to track the progress.

Participants are also encouraged to create their own teams and stage competitions for bragging rights as the largest team, the team representing the most states, or whatever other challenges their creative minds can conceive.

Commemorating the event

As much as possible, elements from the traditional Color Run are being incorporated this year as well. Participants will get a special, tie-dyed T-shirt. The 2020 shirt simulates the multi-hued look usually seen when colors are thrown at the participants during the in-person event.

The multiple mission of the event also remains unchanged. The event is designed to bring awareness to the challenges of the many veterans who suffer from PTSD. It’s also a fundraiser for This Able Veteran, a non-profit organization that provides PTSD service dogs and a trauma resiliency program to veterans at no cost to the veteran.

Each of the past two years the color run has raised enough money to fully sponsor a veteran and service dog team, covering the cost of training and other expenses. Although the coronavirus has changed so much this year, organizers hope to keep the momentum going with the virtual version of this event by bringing in enough money for another veteran/service dog team sponsorship. To do so requires at least $29,000. 

Event sponsors include the SIU Credit Union, Banterra Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, River Radio, Silkworm, South Porte Bank, Premier Productions Videos, First Mid Illinois Bank & Trust and Bank of Carbondale, Farmer’s State Bank and Rotary District 6510.

Located at 1714 S. Wolf Creek Road in Carbondale, This Able Veteran relies solely on fundraisers and donations to support its work and mission of helping veterans heal from psychological and physical injuries by pairing them with specially trained PTSD service dogs.

We’ve been accomplishing that mission since 2011. These special dogs are trained for up to 18 months before the veterans arrive to participate in the Trauma Resiliency Program with their new canine partners.

For more information about This Able Veteran’s “Really Close to Almost Together Virtual 5K Challenge”  call 618/964-1162 or email

Join us on our Facebook event page too! Stay in the know and commiserate with your fellow runners!

Special thanks to our sponsors!

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