Nothing screams Memorial Day weekend like an abundance of American flag apparel from people of all ages and this year’s A Salute to our Troops Race did not disappoint! From flag scarfs, to bandanas, shirts, skirts, socks, and even full face coverings; patriotism wasn’t lacking a bit. We were given another opportunity to host a race for our community and thanks to the help of volunteers and race coordinators, the event went smoothly. For those needing to get their morning cup of coffee, the cafe was up and running with Lady and a few others playing baristas serving up at Common Grounds. Madison Whitbeck, crowned Miss Northern Virginia for 2024, kicked us off with a gorgeous rendition of the National Anthem after group warm ups. One of her favorite things to do as a singer is getting to attend races and/or fundraisers to sing the national anthem. This is something dear to her heart and she enjoys getting to honor those who served in this way. 

Speaking of those who have sacrificed for our freedoms, Ringing in Hope’s A Salute to our Troops race annually benefits the Boulder Crest Foundation, a non profit located in Bluemont, Virginia! “We have been the beneficiary a couple years in a row and we are very grateful for that.” said Clair Ritchie, Marketing & Communications Specialist at BCF. Kyra Pooley, Stewardship Specialist at BCF, goes on to tell us that they have received amounts of $4k and $8k from a single race in the past. I hope this year’s amount beats those, but we won’t know until all the numbers are all in.

The Boulder Crest Foundation envisions a world where all members of the military, veteran, and first responder communities have the training, skills and support they need to transform their mental health struggles into lifelong Posttraumatic Growth. They do this by scaling innovative training programs based on the science of PTG. These research-backed programs — offered at no cost to participants — train members of the military, veterans, and first responders to experience growth and thrive in the aftermath of traumatic events. BCF is the home of Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) and the global leader in the development, delivery, study, and scale of PTG-based programs. “It’s the idea that what doesn’t kill us, can make us wiser,” shared Clair. 

Congress recently designated Posttraumatic Growth Day (or PTG Day) to be June 13th to recognize the capacity for growth and transformation that can emerge from difficult experiences. It’s a day to acknowledge the resilience and strength people can show in the face of adversity, and to recognize the philosophical insights that can come from dark moments. BCF will have a big Choose Growth campaign for this so keep an eye out for that. 

Boulder Crest exists to transform the way that our society thinks, feels, and acts when it comes to notions of mental health and struggle, so that we live in a world that is fueled and founded in notions of PTG, not PTSD, diminishment, diagnosis, or dysfunction. The best way to help or support BCF is by showing up to events like this. Donations are always welcome as they are privately funded. Volunteer opportunities are also available for events like this or other in-house events coming up to include the Red, White, & Bluegrass event, a ruck, and a motorcycle ride. Clair also clarified that “Everything needed to run whether it’s manpower or funds, it’s all on our website: .” So be sure to check that out if you’re interested in getting involved or providing financial support.


“I served for 4 years in the United States Navy and I am proud and happy to serve my country and to serve my Lord” said our very own Frank Helmes at CFC who was volunteering his time alongside Steven Sebastian who told me he was there to serve the Lord. While events like this are usually put on by organizations like Ringing in Hope, they do require a lot of help from volunteers. Since CFC was hosting the race, this also meant many CFC faces would be smiling and assisting all morning. Our very own Eddie Batten was walking around greeting everyone with smiles as she does every Sunday. From volunteer support to packet pickup for the races, this all requires teamwork to make sure everything runs smoothly. We are so thankful for those who were able to volunteer their time to be on the support team for this race.

Among the group of vendors like Chick-fil-A, INOVA, and a face painter, was a young entrepreneur named Jay. Jay is 11 years old and owns Jay’s Got Flavor based in Manassas. He started his baking pound cake business when Covid hit and has been making pound cakes ever since. Jay’s favorite thing to bake is his oreo pound cake. For this event, he brought out slices of his Banana Pudding, Oreo, and Strawberry Lemon cake. There is so much culinary talent in this area. How unique to have one where the baker is only 11 years old! You can follow his whereabouts through this link to try out some of these cakes:

There’s no doubt you noticed the LCSO presence at this event. We are so thankful for them to come out and help keep the runners safe from oncoming traffic. More than that, we got to learn a little bit more about their role in the community. Detective Michael Rivera who works at the nearby station here in Ashburn shared some information about the Community Resource deputies that are at all the stations. “Their job is to interface with the community. Have some fun with kids. We play basketball. We play soccer. We go to after school events. We work with HOAs, and we try to have a table or some sort or presence at events for people to come up and talk to the police.” How blessed we are to have a set number of deputies whose role is to be intentional about supporting our community. They even brought good bags for children filled with coloring books and crayons!

There are many reasons people come out to these races. Especially in the case of the runners. Some came out for the sport of running, some were training for longer races, some came out in memory of a loved one, and if you’re anything like Maura Wieland, you came out in support of a friend who wanted to run it. Both Maura and Wenle are regular attendees of CFC who will be participating in more races to come. 


You likely noticed a runner dressed from head to toe in all kinds of American flag apparel while carrying an actual American flag, his name was Adam. It’s his second year doing this at the Memorial Day race. When he first did it, he got a lot of good responses and feedback from how much the community enjoyed the energy he was bringing. Adam goes on to tell me that he also does it to help runners get through the race as some are looking to make some PRs(personal records) and because it’s for a good cause. It’s a way for him to give back to the veterans as well. His patriotic energy was certainly lifting spirits from early warm up time to actual race time, and finally during recovery time when everyone was taking pictures. We hope to continue seeing Adam at these races for years to come. 

Races have a way of bringing the community together. Whether you’re a fast runner, a slow runner, a walker, a cheerleader, a supporter of good causes, or just someone who enjoys dressing up in themes, it’s a few hours where everyone gets to be a part of something bigger together and in this race, Boulder Crest Foundation got to be the beneficiary for another year.