When the Dashan J. Briggs Memorial Foundation launched its first event last summer — a 5K race — the organizers kept it small by making it a virtual event. Uncertainties still remained at the time about large gatherings in the wake of the pandemic.
On the day the virtual race began, a group of friends and family of Dashan informally gathered at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton to run together.
Even out of the modest beginning, the race raised enough proceeds for the foundation to award $12,000 of scholarships this past spring to a total of six students, three from Riverhead and three from Comsewogue.
Now in its second year, the Run for Briggs 5K will formally take place on the bike trails at EPCAL for an in-person race. Registration remains open for the Saturday, Aug. 13 event. Part of the race path will briefly cut up onto one of the runways.
The foundation and race named in memory of Dashan are all part of the effort to remember the service and sacrifice of Tech. Sgt. Dashan Briggs, the Riverhead native who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2018. He was one of seven servicemembers killed in the crash.
Rebecca Briggs, the widow of Tech. Sgt. Briggs, said the Calverton site was an ideal location to host the race since it won’t require any road closures and the proximity to Calverton National Cemetery where her late husband was laid to rest.
“Riverhead always supports us and it’s in his hometown, so I figured that would be a great idea,” she said.
Ms. Briggs has been working since January to organize the event, which through Friday had about 186 people registered. She said her mom and sister have been assisting in organizing the event along with Dashan’s uncle, Jeremie. Dashan’s grandfather, Eli, has also helped bring in sponsors.
The event will feature a one-mile fun run as well as the Run for Briggs 5K Ruck, in which participants wear extra gear during the race. The requirement is for anyone under 150 pounds to wear at least 10 pounds and anyone over that weight to wear at least 20 pounds. The participants can earn a GORUCK patch.
On the day of the race, registration will open at 7:30 a.m. and a brief opening ceremony will take place between 8-8:15 a.m. The one-mile run starts at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K at 9 a.m.
“We’re giving out pint glasses with our logo on it to the winners,” Ms. Briggs said. “We’ll have water, obviously, everywhere and probably some fruit and we got Chick-fil-A sandwiches to give out to runners. And I’m hoping to get some Italian ices.”
The Riverhead and Manorville fire departments will display a a large American flag at the finish line.
There will also be raffle baskets and each participant receives one free raffle entry. Participants also receive a custom race T-shirt, although the deadline to guarantee a shirt is by the end of the day Sunday, July 31.
Registration can be done online here. The 5K race entry is $35 and the fun run is $10. The prices increases by $5 starting Aug. 6 and through the day of the race. A virtual option will still be offered for those who can’t make it to Calverton.
The event will likely grow even bigger next year. Ms. Briggs said the 2023 race will be held Memorial Day weekend. The race is part of the Suffolk County Veterans Series and the first run is always Memorial Day weekend. A race that typically held that spot, the Cpl Christopher G. Scherer “I Did the Grid” race, concluded this year after 15 years, Ms. Briggs said.
“They handed over that Memorial Day slot to us since we’re Gold Star and fairly new,” Ms. Briggs said. “It’s an honor, because that’s a big weekend for our family.”
She said the hope is to possibly have the race on the runways at EPCAL, but with the sale of that land still pending, it’s unclear if that will be possible at that time.