With Veterans Day just four short days away, the Pittsburgh Penguins Ice Crew and team mascot, Iceburgh, took time Sunday morning to help cheer on runners at the fifth annual Operation Troop Appreciation Veterans Day 5K Race at Hampton Community Park in Allison Park, Pa.
The 5K race is held annually by the Operation Troop Appreciation organization as a fundraiser to help raise money to make care packages to send to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a way to help inspire the runners in the cold weather, the Ice Crew positioned themselves at various stops along the trail and shouted encouragement to the runners.
“We all value the sacrifices that our troops make for us on a daily basis,” Ice Crew coordinator Laura Spencer said. “To be able to bring our Ice Crew out here and help cheer on the runners for such a worthy cause was a great way to help celebrate Veterans Day.”
Thanks to the Penguins, the prize for this year’s top team was five tickets to an upcoming game against the New York Rangers at CONSOL Energy Center.
When all was said and done, it was the five-man Gingerbread Man Running Company team from Indiana, Pa. which took home the top prize from Iceburgh.
“We are huge Penguins fans and are very excited to be able to win the tickets and go to the game,” said Luke Snyder, who was joined on the winning team by Chris Geddis, Matt Gaudet, Matt Beucker and Garrett Milner.
“(This race) was a great opportunity for all of us to get together, run, win Penguins tickets and earn a pie,” Beucker added.
Event coordinator Alice McLaughlin couldn’t thank the Penguins enough for their generosity in helping make this year’s 5K race such a positive experience for Operation Troop Appreciation.
“We are so grateful to have the Penguins support,” McLaughlin said. “This race has become famous for its apple pies, which goes along with our All-American theme that we want people to associate us with – things that our military are fighting for. When the word got out that we would also be offering Penguins tickets, people were saying I want to get the Penguins tickets too.
“Having the Ice Crew come was special as well. They were really nice. They went around and welcomed a lot of our runners. They really made everyone feel right at home. They cheered for the runners along the course and really added a whole lot of enjoyment to our day.”