The Veteran Students Organization (VSO) set up a marine corps-inspired obstacle course on the Foote Green to raise funds for the more than 160 homeless veterans in Miami-Dade County, one of the areas with the highest rates of homeless veterans in the country.
According to Miami’s biannual count of the community’s homeless population last year, there are 240 veterans in Miami and only 80 are sheltered. The Sweat with Vets course included running, teamwork exercises, water-balloon tossing and other combat tasks. After finishing the veterans challenge, the participants could win prizes like VSO T-shirts, one of 25 gift certificates and movie tickets.
“It’s a great way to get people out here and do a little exercise. This year, we based it off the marine core-combat fitness test, so this way people could get a little bit of a taste of what we did in the military and at the same time donate some money for a good cause,” VSO President Richard Pruss said.
Sixteen volunteers, both veterans and other students, took part in Sweat with Vets. Pierri Cisco, an Army veteran, was one of the volunteers. Cisco said he had served for nine years, some of which was spent in Iraq and other military stations in Oklahoma and Georgia. He found out about VSO on Facebook and joined.
“I hope it raises lots of funds for those who are veterans. Unfortunately, we have a lot of veterans in Miami that don’t have a place to live,” Cisco said.
Jessica Hamorsky, a Frost School of Music freshman majoring in vocal performance, was the social media coordinator for the event despite her initial reservations about getting involved with VSO. She said she was nervous about joining the organization because she was not a veteran, but wanted to be a part of an organization in which she could volunteer.
VSO was founded five years ago and has hosted Sweat with Vets for the past three years. The organization was formed to establish a network of veterans for support and community service.