By Susan Misur
Kurt Ogren is an experienced runner who has participated in 23 marathons locally and abroad. But as he gears up for another race this month, it helps to have a little extra motivation.
On April 29, Ogren will run in the 31-mile Lake Waramaug Ultra Marathon in New Preston. His goal is to raise awareness and money for the Fisher House project, which will accommodate families of veterans receiving treatment at the Veterans Affairs medical center.
“It is a great cause, and it’s something that is going to happen in West Haven — we just have to help make it happen. And anything we can do for the veterans is a good thing, because they definitely deserve it,” said Ogren, interim principal of Seth Haley School.
Ogren, 43, has run other races to raise money. In 1993, he collected donations for a 3-year-old with leukemia. In 2005, he raised money in honor of a West Haven High School student with leukemia.
In 2009, he ran 50 miles for the Wounded Warrior Project, which also benefits veterans. In 2011, Ogren was on a team in the Vermont Tough Mudder, which is a 10- to 12-mile obstacle course. Part of its proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project.
West Haven will have the first Fisher House in Connecticut, and group and individual fundraisers are continuing.
The Fisher House Foundation is building “comfort homes” across the country and abroad near military and VA medical centers for families of veterans undergoing extensive treatment.
The Friends of the Fisher House Connecticut is committed to raising $3 million for the West Haven project, and the national organization will match that.
Kevin Creed, chairman of Friends of the Fisher House, said about $250,000 has been raised for the local project. Kelly Stevens, volunteer fundraising coordinator, said the goal is to break ground next spring.
Ogren “is a terrific guy whom we all greatly admire,” Creed said. “He understands that a Fisher House meets a critical need.”
Ogren said he’s running the race in honor of his father, Karl L. Ogren, who served in the Air Force and Coast Guard, and father-in-law, Ralph A. Battista, who was in the Marine Corps, though he says he is dedicating his race to all veterans.
So far, he’s raised about $2,100.
Tom Flowers, a member of the Friends of the Fisher House leadership council and a veteran, said he provided Ogren with West Haven Fisher House medallions to give to anyone contributing at least $20.
Donations can be sent to Friends of Fisher House CT, c/o Kurt Ogren, Seth G. Haley Elementary School, 148 South St., West Haven 06516.
The Seth Haley PTA is donating proceeds from an April 12 basketball game.
There are more fundraisers. WESTIES Care has donated Yankees tickets for raffles at Rita’s Italian ice shop on Ocean Avenue, Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant on the Boston Post Road in Orange and Elm Diner on Elm Street.
The Elm Diner will donate part of April 23-27 profits. Rita’s will do the same, from noon to 9 p.m. April 27.
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