Rotary Club of Westerville organizers are hoping that this year's Veterans 5K is the largest yet.

Rotary Club of Westerville organizers are hoping that this year's Veterans 5K is the largest yet.

The event benefits the Central Ohio Honor Flight program, raising funds to help veterans visit monuments in Washington, D.C., and other veteran organizations.

Rotary member Bob Slavens has been organizing the run since its inception six years ago, raising $19,000 in the process. He calls it a "unique event" because of its beneficiaries.

"It benefit the veterans organizations and helps to support those individuals, many of whom have risked their lives to defend our freedoms," he said.

"You hear in the news that vets are getting a bad rap -- not maybe getting the support or med sup and other things that they should. ... It's tough. There's a lot of red tape involved in vets getting what they deserve, and we're doing our part to help support them."

Organizers work hard to make the event all-inclusive, favoring casual runners or those who want to walk for a good cause over intense runners looking for an award. Racers get a participation trophy rather than trophies for best times.

"Our event is not what I would call a typical 5K," Slavens said. "We have a host of participants who are avid runners, but the largest share of the participants are people walking. ... We think that, because of the nature of the event and the support we give to different organizations each year, they see that this is justified by the cause. It brings out a different category of participants than a typical 5K."

Despite the good cause, Slavens said organizers haven't always been the best at marketing the run.

This year, however, indications are that they could easily eclipse last year's participant count of 500.

"This year our committee is going to social media and create awareness of the event ... and so far, we've exceeded last year's numbers to date by probably 20 percent, so we're pretty excited," Slavens said. "We had initially planned on 500 or maybe 550, but we're expecting 600 or maybe more."

The event begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at Alum Creek Park North, 221 W. Main St.

Those interested in registering can visit -- or pay cash on the day of the race. Entry fee is $37 or $8 for a kids fun run.

@ThisWeekAndrew