NYC agrees to host 5K for Afghanistan war hero
bill de blasio
NYC gave up 8,550 parking spots for al fresco dining amid COVID
Verbal dispute on subway ends with MTA worker being punched in face
Annual 5K for Staten Island hero soldier halted by de Blasio COVID rules
De Blasio says successor ‘better damn well understand’ NYC, in swipe at Yang
City Hall has agreed to greenlight a 5K run to honor an Afghanistan war hero — after organizers say their plans were stalled by the city amid COVID-19 restrictions.
The Staten Island race honoring Army Sgt. Michael Ollis is now ready to go forward after The Post reported on the event being unable to secure a permit – with an executive order from the mayor expected this week that will address some crowd restrictions.
“The City has been in close contact with the family and we’ve made it clear that we’re committed to finding a solution here,” de Blasio spokesman Mitch Schwartz told The Post on Sunday, saying the office was generally supportive of the race from early discussions.
“Looking forward to a safe and exciting event.”
Sgt. Ollis, a 24-year-old Staten Islander, was killed in Afghanistan in 2013 as he shielded a wounded Polish solider from an insurgent suicide bomber’s blast.
The race for Ollis, launched in 2017, was one of several honors for the Gotham resident, in addition to the city naming a Staten Island Ferry boat after him.
But organizers had said they were unable to secure a permit for this year’s run, with cops pointing the finger at City Hall.
“It feels good,” Bob Ollis, the late sergeant’s dad, told The Post, saying the mayor’s office gave an unofficial commitment to the event after some SI pols stepped in to help.
“If they told us ‘no,’ that was fine, we totally understand,” Ollis said. “It was this being limbo that was frustrating. I totally understood them with this virus … We sure as hell didn’t want people to get sick.”
Organizers are focusing on the original planned date of June 13 with details such as the course, and if runners will be staggered, still to be ironed out. Statewide executive orders restricting capacity may still be in effect.
“The sacrifice of SSG Michael Ollis should be long remembered in this community, and I was happy to play my part to bring this event back this year working with Assemblyman Michael Tannousis and on behalf of (Matteo), said David Carr, spokesman for Republican City Councilman Matteo.
“The details will be worked out in the days ahead, and I thank the Mayor’s office for agreeing to work with the Ollis family to make this a reality.”
Tannousis said in a statement said the event commemorated a hometown hero who gave his life serving the country.
“I’m happy to have partnered with my colleague in government, David Carr, in speaking with the Mayor’s Office and receiving their commitment that the event will go forward this year,” Tannousis said.
The race has become a fixture in the suburban New Dorp neighborhood where Ollis grew up and his parents, Bob and Linda, still reside.
In past years, up to 1,000 people have taken to local streets, jogging and strolling past the permanent display of 24 American flags — one for each year of the young infantryman’s life — that serves as a poignant reminder of his sacrifice at Forward Operating Base Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan.
Soldiers from Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division, travel to Staten Island each year to take part, and runners participate virtually from as far away as Germany and Afghanistan.
Ollis posthumously received the US Army’s Distinguished Service Cross and Poland’s Army Gold Medal for saving the lives of his entire platoon and of Lt. Karol Cierpica, a Polish soldier he had never met before the base came under attack.
When a truck bomb pierced the compound’s perimeter and enemy fighters burst through, Ollis ordered his men to safety in a nearby bunker. But when Cierpica was wounded in both legs and left unable to walk, Ollis — wearing no body armor — positioned himself to protect the Polish soldier as an approaching insurgent detonated an explosive vest, according to the Army’s official account of the engagement.
Entry fees for the 2019 run netted about $29,000 for the Ollis Foundation, according to its tax filings — half of its total intake that year.
The group spends the cash to host holiday dinners for elderly vets, train service dogs for injured service members, send care packages to US troops overseas, teach civics in borough schools, and assist military families in need.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article