In honor of Veterans Day, more than 200 volunteers walked from Massachusetts General Hospital to Fenway Park as part of a 5K walk to raise awareness for the "Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program" and announce a new fundraiser called "Run to Home Base" on Wednesday.
Welcoming the walkers to Fenway Park was U.S. Senator Paul Kirk, who now occupies the Senate seat previously held by the late Ted Kennedy, who played a lead role in creating the Home Base Program before his death this summer.
Kennedy's widow, Vicki Kennedy, and her niece, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, have agreed to serve as honorary board directors for the Home Base Program.
U.S. military personnel from units across New England attended the Veterans Day event. In honor of Veterans Day, the Red Sox offered free admission to Fenway Park tours for veterans and their families throughout the day.
The "Run to Home Base" will be scheduled in 2010 as a fundraising event for the Red Sox Foundation and MGH Home Base Program. It's still pending city approvals, but organizers hope to have participants cross the event's finish line at Fenway Park.
Wednesday's 5K walk was led by retired U.S. Army General Fred Franks, who commanded Gulf War coalition VII Corp and lost his leg in Vietnam. Franks now serves as a consultant and senior advisor to the MSG Home Base Program.
When they arrived at Fenway Park, the walkers sent e-mails to the troops, thanking them for their service and telling them about the program.
"On behalf of [principal owner] John Henry, [chairman] Tom Werner, our entire ownership group and members of the Red Sox front office, I am proud to pay tribute to the many service men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms and our way of life. We are all in their debt," Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino said in a statement.
"We also thank the hundreds of volunteers who walked today to not only raise funds for 'The Red Sox Foundation and Mass General Hospital Home Base Program,' but to raise the awareness of this new program for veterans with traumatic brain injuries and [Post-traumatic stress disorder] and their families. We look forward to hosting the 'Run to Home Base' event next year at Fenway Park to serve our nation's heroes. And to all veterans, 'Welcome home.'"
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com.