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Why this 88-year-old Korean War veteran keeps running 5Ks

He has plenty of quips about running and his age, as do most 88-year-olds who are still active on the roads.

But Jerry Rivard offers a bit of wisdom with his wit, finding similarities between what he loves most about running to what he enjoyed about his four years of service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“When I was in the service, I met all these nice young people my age,” Rivard said. "You go to new places and you make new friends and I still remember them.

"It’s the same way at the races. You go there, you all do the same thing and you meet a lot of nice people and make a lot of new friends. There’s a comparison there.”

Rivard, a 1948 graduate of Kenmore High School, served two years in the naval reserves before being called up to active duty for two years during the Korean War.

Now, a few days before his 89th birthday, he will be running in the inaugural WNY Heroes 5K. The May 11 race benefits the organization WNY Heroes Inc., supporting veterans and military families.

Rivard saw an application for the race while at the Feel the Spirit 5K.

“I thought maybe I’d be interested in that,” he said. “Because I’m not doing too many.”

The WNY Heroes 5K will be one of the races on his calendar this year. Rivard, who has been a Buffalo News Runner of the Year winner in his age group, used to run all the local races. These days, he’s doing fewer, but still gets out every other day.

“It’s a win if I can get to the starting line,” Rivard said. “Last year I think I ran in about six maybe. I don’t know if I can do that this year. ... And I’m only going as fast as a snail. I think I’m jogging, but people will see me and say, ‘Hey Jerry, I saw you walking yesterday.’

“I think running is great. I like the fresh air. I like to get out of the chair. I like the people you meet at the races. I’ve been running with some of those people for 50 years.”

The idea of running a race that supported veterans and military families was a draw for Rivard to run the 5K in Tonawanda.

The race is the brainchild of Denise Cronyn, who has always held military families close to her heart. Hers is one of those families, and she wanted to continue to do what she could to support organizations that provide services to veterans.

According to WNY Heroes, there are nearly 175,000 veterans in the eight counties of Western New York.

“My husband is a retired colonel from the U.S. Army,” Cronyn said. “When we started our own real estate company about a year and a half ago, we decided we wanted to do something to help military families. I was introduced to WNY Heroes when my kids went to Canisius High School and now we donate 10 percent of our commission proceeds to WNY Heroes.

“Then one day I thought about trying something different. I saw a sign for a different race and I wondered if we could run a 5K for WNY Heroes. We chose May because it’s Military Appreciation Month so it all tied together.”

Rivard joked with Cronyn, making sure they would keep the finish line open for a long time. It’s going to take him more than an hour, he noted. That’s no problem, replied Cronyn, who is thrilled Rivard could join them for this race.

She asked him if there were many Korean War veterans around Western New York and Rivard offered this story for some perspective:

“I have a few friends that were in,” Rivard said. “But I just happened to think that I’m getting so old, that I remember when I was about 10 years old, I saw newsreels of Civil War veterans – a couple old Civil War veterans with big beards and the old uniform on. They were probably like 100 years old or 99 years old, but I saw them. Now that’s where I’m going with the Korean War veterans.”

Race Calendar

Friday, May 10

  • Buffalo Greek 5K, 6:30 p.m., Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 146 W. Utica St., Buffalo

Saturday, May 11

  • Prendergast Run For Literacy, 5K, 9 a.m., James Prendergast Library, 509 Cherry St., Jamestown
  • Nancy Price Memorial 5K, 10 a.m., Veterans Park, Youngstown
  • Happy Half, Half Marathon and 5K, 10 a.m., Holiday Valley Resort, 6557 Holiday Valley Road, Ellicottville
  • Strides for Salem, 5K, 10 a.m., Niawanda Park, 250 Niagara St., Tonawanda
  • WNY Heroes 5K, 10 a.m., Site of the former Hamilton Elementary School, 44 Westfall Drive, Tonawanda
  • I Have A Voice  5K, 3 p.m., Whirlpool State Park, Niagara Scenic Parkway, Niagara Falls, NY

Thursday, May 16

  • Knox Farm Trail Run, 5 miles, 6:30 p.m., Knox Farm State Park, East Aurora

Friday, May 17

  • Dye & Dash 5K, 6 p.m., Orchard Park Middle School, 60 S. Lincoln Ave., Orchard Park
  • KMR Memorial Road March 5K Youth Race, 6 p.m., Como Lake Park, 2220 Como Park Blvd., Lancaster. For youth ages 10-18 only.
  • Brian Dugan Memorial Scholarship 5K Road Race, 6:30 p.m., Lincoln Arena, 1200 Parker Blvd., Tonawanda
  • Glow Burg 5K, 8 p.m., 4 Main St., Frewsburg

Saturday, May 18

  • LockRock Armed Forces Day 5K, 9 a.m., Lock 34 Bar & Grill, 80 Main St., Lockport
  • 27th Annual Chris Griswold 5K Race, 10 a.m., Como Park, Lancaster
  • SSPP's Charge of the Knights, 5K, 6 p.m., Ss. Peter and Paul School Gym, 5480 Main St., Williamsville

Sunday, May 19

  • Run Jimmy Run Charity 5K, 10 a.m., Sahlen Field, 275 Washington St., Buffalo
  • Niagara Edge 5K, 10K, 10 a.m., Summit Healthplex, 6934 Williams Road, Wheatfield.
  • Telegraph Road Race, 14 minutes 18 seconds, 2 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 778 Best St. Buffalo
  • 20th Annual Crouse 5K Challenge, 4 p.m., American Legion Post 409, 100 Legion Drive, Gowanda
  • Color The Beach 5K, 4 p.m., Woodlawn Beach State Park, 3580 Lake Shore Road, Blasdell

Tuesday, May 21

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 1, 3 miles, Trail, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park, Glenwood

Saturday, May 25

  • John Beishline 5K, 8:30 a.m., Hyatt Hotel, Two Fountain Plaza, Buffalo

Sunday, May 26

  • Buffalo Marathon, Half Marathon, Heart-to-Heart Relay, 6:30 a.m., Hyatt Hotel, Two Fountain Plaza, Buffalo

Monday, May 27

  • Project 33 Memorial Run, 6.63 miles, 10:30 a.m., Hamburg Town Park

Tuesday, May 28

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 2, 3 Miles, Trail, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park, Glenwood

Saturday, June 1

  • 31st Annual Independent Health Foundation's Kids Run, 1.8 Miles, 9 a.m., Delaware Park, Colvin Boulevard and Amherst Street
  • Run In The Country, 5K, 10 a.m., Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village & Museum, 3755 Tonawanda Creek Road, Amherst
  • Run The 'Burg For Autism, 5K, 11 a.m., J.P. Fitzgerald's, 4236 Clark St., Hamburg
  • Salmon Run, 5K, 5 p.m., Clark's Park-Wilson Harbor, 57 Harbor St., Wilson

Saturday, June 2

  • Live.Laugh.LoveYourLungs, 5K, 8:30 a.m., Hoyt Lake, Delaware Park
  • Girls On The Run 5K, 9:30 a.m., University at Buffalo Amherst/North Campus

Tuesday, June 4

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 3, 3 Miles, Trail, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park, Glenwood
  • The Grace Run, 5K, 7 p.m., Christian Central Academy, 39 Academy St., Williamsville

Wednesday, June 5

  • The Big Run 5K, Wilkeson Pointe, 225 Fuhrmann Blvd., Buffalo

Friday, June 7

Superhero Race & Wellness Walk, 5K, 6:30 p.m., St. George's Church, 2 Nottingham Terrace

Saturday, June 8

  • Albion Strawberry Festival, 5K and 8K, 8 a.m., Orleans County Courthouse, Corner of State and Main streets, Albion
  • Sea Lion Rescue Run, 5K, Whirlpool State Park & Aquarium of Niagara, 701 Whirlpool St., Niagara Falls
  • North Collins 5K Run and 1 Mile Family Fun Walk, 9 a.m., North Collins Jr.-Sr. High School, 2045 School St., North Collins
  • Bergholz 5K, 9:30 a.m., Holy Ghost Lutheran Church and School, 6630 Luther St., Niagara Falls
  • St. Mary of the Lake, 5K, 6:30 p.m., St. Mary of the Lake, 4737 Lake Shore Road, Hamburg

Sunday, June 9

  • Boys on the Right Track 5K, 10 a.m., Woodlawn Beach State Park, 3580 Lakeshore Road, Blasdell
  • FG III Memorial, 5K, 10:15 a.m., Lake Erie Beach Volunteer Fire Department, 9483 Lake Shore Road, Angola
  • A Walk/Run/Stroll in Lauren's Shoes, 5K, 11 a.m., Wilkeson Pointe, 225 Fuhrmann Blvd., Buffalo

Tuesday, June 11

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 4, 3.5 Miles, Trail, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park, Glenwood

Thursday, June 13

  • Buffalo J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, 6:25 p.m., 3.5 Miles, Delaware Park, Buffalo

Saturday, June 15

  • The Janeen Kelly Memorial Run, 5K, 9 a.m., Mang Park, Kenmore
  • Trooper Brinkerhoff 5K and 10K, 10 a.m., Boston Town Park
  • 5th Annual James Metz Memorial Scholarship Run, 5K, 10 a.m., Keysa Park, Brady Avenue and Vanderberg Avenue, Lancaster
  • Grassroots Gardens, 5K and 10K, 3 p.m., LaSalle Waterfront Park, Niagara Falls

Tuesday, June 18

Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 5, 3.5 Miles, Trail, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park, Glenwood

Thursday, June 20

  • Knox Farm Trail Run, 5 Miles, 6:30 p.m., Knox Farm State Park, East Aurora
  • West Seneca Community 5K, 6:30 p.m.Bi-Centennial Pool, 50 Legion Parkway, West Seneca
  • Chase The Sun Summer Solstice 5K, 7:30 p.m., Nativity of Our Lord School, 26 Thorn Ave., Orchard Park

Friday, June 21

  • St. Gregory The Great Great Race, 5K, 7 p.m., 100 St. Gregory Court, Williamsville

Sunday, June 23

  • Ashley May 5K, 10 a.m., Galanti Park, 230 Martin Road, Lackawanna

Tuesday, June 25

  • Dirt Devil Trail Series No. 6, 3.5-Miles, Trail, 6:30 p.m., Sprague Brook Park, Glenwood

Wednesday, June 26

  • 25th Annual Loughran's Alumni Cup 5K Run, 7 p.m., Loughran's Bar & Restaurant, 4543 Main St., Snyder

Friday, June 28

  • Seneca Hickory Stick 5K Summer Sizzler Race No. 1, 7 p.m., Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Club, 4560 Creek Road, Lewiston












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