04/13/13 6:00pm
04/13/2013 6:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Chris Cuddihy of Riverside leads a group of about 50 runners at the start of the Riverfront 24 Saturday afternoon.

At 2 p.m. this afternoon, Chris Cuddihy led a group of about 50 runners and walkers, even a unicyclist, to the start of the Riverfront 24, an annual 24-hour endurance running event to raise money for the Suffolk County United Veterans.

The group took off on the downtown Riverhead riverfront loop for a day-long journey that will include 12 different challenges, including pushups, lunges, squats and weighted sandbag sprint. They’ll spend the final 12 hours doing the same challenges in reverse order.

The event was originally scheduled for Veterans Day, but was delayed because of superstorm Sandy. The Suffolk County United Veterans is a nonprofit that runs a shelter for homeless veterans in Yaphank and provides a number of other services for veterans countywide.

Debra Beattie of Deer Park added the challenges this year in memory of Army Specialist James Lundin of Bellport, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Bagdhad in 2007. The challenges, which also include a 1/2 mile skipping or lunges for the participants at the start of each hour, is meant to keep the run/walk more interesting.

Ms. Beattie got involved this year because of an internship she’s doing with the United Veterans for her Master’s degree in social work at SUNY Stony Brook. At the start of the run she said, “I truly believe our veterans deserve the opportunity to have a home, jobs, housing and other services that they need.”

This year’s event is being limited to the riverfront parking lot; runners will not run on Main Street, as they did in prior years.

Cars will still be able to park behind Main Street stores by entering the lot via the unnamed street by the Riverhead Diner and exiting on Peconic Avenue, Mr. Cuddihy said.

There also will be a veteran’s car show on Sunday morning from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with live bands playing in the parking lot.

“What we really want is for people to come down, enjoy the music, enjoy the car show and walk a lap and donate to Suffolk County United Veterans,” Mr. Cuddihy said.

People can also donate directly through Suffolk County United Veterans’ website, www.scuv.org, or by donating cash or checks at this weekend’s event, he said.

WITH TIM GANNON

12/10/12 12:51pm
12/10/2012 12:51 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Suffolk County United Veterans operates permanent supportive housing like this house for veterans in need.

A Riverhead-based nonprofit organization that helps homeless and needy veterans is one of four organizations from across the country competing to win $25,000 in gift cards through the Home Depot Foundation.

Suffolk County United Veterans, which has its main office on Roanoke Avenue, was chosen to participate in the “Aprons in Action” contest, where Facebook users can vote on which nonprofit should win the funding. The organization is in second place in the competition, which runs to the end of December.

“We provide housing and supportive services for homeless veterans and veterans who are in need,” said SCUV director of operations Wilkens Young.

The group runs a facility in Yaphank to provide housing and support services for veterans, as well as permanent housing for veterans in East Patchogue, Bellport, Mastic, Yaphank and Middle Island.

SCUV run mental health, employment, substance abuse, and vocational training services for veterans who are in need of support, Mr. Young said. Full-time employees also help sign veterans up for financial benefits like Social Security or medical treatment from Veterans Affairs centers.

Mr. Young, who has worked at Suffolk County United Veterans for the past 10 years, was a participant in the program himself.

“It basically turned my life around,” Mr. Young said. “It provided me with the support to do the things with my life that I wanted to do.”

With help from the nonprofit, Mr. Young received an education as an alcohol and substance abuse counselor. He has been working with Suffolk County United Veterans ever since.

If the group wins the competition, Mr. Young said the money will go toward making one of the organization’s housing handicapped-accessible to assist a handicapped veteran who lives there. The nonprofit would also be entered into the next step of the competition as a finalist and could win an additional $250,000.

Facebook users can vote for SCUV on the competition’s page once per day.

psquire@timesreview.com