Patriotic color run to benefit UTC student veterans - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Patriotic color run to benefit UTC student veterans

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -  Students at UTC are trying to ease the financial burden for veterans getting an education. A 5k run coming up this weekend is helping fund a scholarship for student veterans that is honoring one of their own.

Many current student veterans are forced to work several jobs or take out student loans to pay for what the GI bill doesn't cover.
The scholarship is supposed to help someone avoid having to do that.

"I was a little naive thinking that my veteran status would get me further than it did," said student Rob Barber. "So when I realized that wasn't the case, I figured that an education was the best way to do it."

Barber spent over 9 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. After two tours to Iraq and one to Afghanistan, he now balances two jobs while being a full time-student at UTC.

Although Barber's G.I. bill covers tuition, he said it doesn't pay for books or school supplies.

"It does not pay for just the nitty-gritty stuff that you really end up needing when it comes to day-to-day school life," he said.

The average cost of books and supplies often exceeds $1,200. So the Student Veteran's Organization is trying to make up for where the VA's stipend falls short with a 5k patriotic color run happening on Saturday.

Student Ragan Walker volunteered to sign people up on Wednesday.

"It's just to build community between the students and the veterans that are coming on to campus," Walker said.

The run helps fund a scholarship for current student veterans in honor of former UTC student, Sgt. David Alex Stephens. A roadside bomb in Afghanistan killed the army medic in 2007. He enlisted after graduating in 2002.

"They've done so much for us," Walker said. "As a community of students, it's good for all of us to interact and support each other."

"We did fight for our freedom and for our country. We laid our lives on the line every day," said Barber.

And for those like Sgt. Stephens, who paid the ultimate price -- it's a way to give back, just a little.

"If they could just support us in this race, and allow us to come up with the money we need to endow this scholarship, that would be really helpful," Barber said.

The run begins at noon Saturday. Registration is from 10-11 a.m. It costs $25 to register. To learn more, click here.

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