Green Beret Foundation event

was big success Saturday morning

By Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OH (September 14, 2021) – An early morning of clear skies and cool temperatures in Nisbet Park and along the Scenic Little Miami River Trail proved a perfect setting for the 4th Annual Steps-n-Salutes Green Beret 5K on Saturday, September 11, 2021 benefitting the Green Beret Foundation.

Brent Cooper, Green Beret and keynote speaker for the Steps-n-Salutes Green Beret 5K Saturday, 9/11/21 in Loveland, OH (Chuck Gibson)

The keynote speaker for the 5K race was Brent Cooper, a Green Beret who travelled to Ohio from Texas to be part of the special occasion this year. The solemnity of the day -20th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 tragedy – was not lost on Cooper. He noted the somber remembrance, but emphasized the purpose for more than 200 people joining in the event.

“Everybody’s supporting the Green Beret Foundation,” said Cooper. “It’s really a remembrance of that day; that we never forget the people who sacrificed, almost 3,000 people died that day.”

The 5K race is just the first of a trifecta of weekend events organized by Fran Wesseling to raise awareness and funds for the Green Beret Foundation. The Cincinnati Classics were started by Wesseling whose son suffered incapacitating injuries while serving as a Green Beret. Without the help of the Foundation, his resulting expenses would not have been covered. Beside the race, the Classics weekend includes a formal banquet on Saturday evening and a two-day golf event Sunday and Monday.

Rex Wetherill was first to cross the finish line for the Green Beret 5K Saturday, 9/11/21 in Loveland, OH (Chuck Gibson)

“It was awesome, perfect temperature and flat,” said Rex Wetherill, who was first-place finisher among men in the 5K. “We have the utmost admiration for Fran and Wes. We love them and what they are doing. The whole thing is so well done and so inspirational.”

Wetherill and his wife has been supporters and a sponsor of the Green Beret Foundation Cincinnati Classics weekend since it began six years ago. 

Race organizer Char Cooper with race winner Rex Wetherill at the end of the Green Beret 5K 9/11/21 (Chuck Gibson)

It’s the reason he was running in the 5K, attended the banquet Saturday evening and played in the golf outing on Monday. He doesn’t understand how anybody could walk away from the event without getting goosebumps and feeling “a deep sense of patriotism and gratitude to be in this country” where people make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

“Today is extra special with it being the 20th anniversary of 9/11,” Wetherill said. “I’ll probably be in tears tonight. It’s such a tragic day, but we have to remember it.”

A fun run for the kids was a part of the Green Beret 5K in Loveland (Chuck Gibson)

The Steps-n-Salutes Green Beret 5K is organized by Char Cooper (No relation to Brent Cooper) each year. This year, on the special remembrance of 9/11, it began with a moving rendition of the National Anthem sung by Loveland’s own Julie O’Neill (WCPO-TV News anchor) accompanied by Steel Magnolia group. 

“It was a fantastic turnout today,” Brent Cooper said. “Every year Char Cooper puts this on with incredible supporters. I love Ohio. I just love coming here from Texas and everybody coming out here supporting the Green Beret Foundation.”

Kyle Warmouth finished in 2nd place while pushing his son in a stroller all the way across the finish line (Chuck Gibson)

The special opening ceremony was followed by the 5K race which included men, women, children, racers carrying flags or banners supporting the U.S.A. and our troops, and even pushing strollers all the way across the finish line.

Top finishers from the Steps-n-Salutes Green Beret 5K were presented with trophies: l-r Men 2nd place, Kyle Warmouth, 1st place Rex Wetherill 3rd place finisher not present and Women: 3rd place Cassie Lenarz, 1st place Virginia Huzl – 2nd place finisher not present. (Chuck Gibson)

The stage of the Nisbet Park Amphitheater played host to post-race ceremonies recognizing Green Beret’s who participated and recognizing Viet Nam veteran’s. Of course, women and men winners were recognized as well. There was even a fun race for the kiddies before it was all over.

“Turnout has been fantastic today,” said Char Cooper, race organizer. “We’ve had over 200 participating or observing. It couldn’t have been a better morning in Loveland, Ohio.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Green Beret Foundation or to donate.