Bradley might be in the land of the free and serve as the home of the Braves, but it is also a training ground for 10 students preparing to become second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
The Army ROTC program, or Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, is a program in which students are trained and prepared to enter into the Army at an entry-level position where they will lead as officers right from the start.
“There are two different avenues in which to join the army,” cadet and senior industrial engineering major Christopher Spadafora said. “One side is the enlisted side, one is the officer side. What ROTC prepares you for is the officer side.”
Last year, Bradley’s Army ROTC cadets hosted the Soldier Dash, an obstacle-course style relay run in Laura Bradley Park. They had more than 150 Bradley and Peoria area participants, raising nearly $2,500.
Spadafora said the race is an opportunity to make Bradley’s program more well known, but also allows for the funding of Bradley’s programming as well as a large donation to a charity.
“We’re going to donate 50 percent of all the proceeds to the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, and the rest is going to go to Bradley’s ROTC fund, which we use for training…because nothing we get from the Army is going to be funded,” Spadafora said. “We fund everything outside of the core curriculum.”
The Dash is a 3-mile course with obstacles such as low crawls, body weight exercises and rope bridges. Spadafora said it can take anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes to complete the course, but, when completed with friends or family, it seems like no time at all.
“We really want to promote signing up as a team because it’s more fun to compete in an obstacle course with a team rather than just by yourself,” he said.
According to Spadafora, the ROTC cadets will preview five of the 11 obstacles at Late Night BU March 27 in an effort to give a sneak peek of this year’s event.
April 25 at 10 a.m. will kick off the first wave of participants, as there are several heats of racers. From individual runners to sorority or fraternity teams, Spadafora said there is a little bit of something for everyone.
“We have a new and improved course this year,” Spadafora said. “We surveyed a lot of the participants at the end of last year’s race to see what they liked and what could be better, and we used that to make this year’s course and obstacles.”
Three different team divisions are available: fraternity, sorority and open. It is $125 for teams to sign up with five people. The winning fraternity team and sorority team will receive $150 each for their respective philanthropies. Individual registration costs $30. Registration will be open until April 17.
“I was a part of the [Delta Upsilon] team that won the first place fraternity trophy,” junior criminal justice major Ryan Lacerna said. “Bradley Army ROTC did a great job organizing, planning and executing the event. It was very impressive to see the number of Bradley students along with local runners participating in the race. For those looking to run the race this year, strength and endurance are key to navigating the obstacles and completing the [race].”
For more information, or to register, visit: thesoldierdash.wix.com/thesoldierdash.