Duke took in Saturday's Storm the Fort 5K at Fort Atkinson with red, white and blue displayed around his neck.
The service dog, who worked alongside Bob Dean of Bellevue, was the reason behind the running event. The Fort Atkinson American Legion and Auxiliary Post 348 5-kilometer race raised funds for Javelan, Inc., an Omaha nonprofit organization dedicated to providing service dogs to military veterans.
When possible, Javelan connects vets with dogs from shelters and rescues, improving the lives of both the person and their new best friend. The dogs are trained to support their veteran and often can help those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury, seizure alert, diabetic detection and many other medical disabilities, according to information provided by Javelan.
“Both of my parents are in the military,” Blair High School runner Jacob Rupp said. “It helps.”
The Bear finished the Saturday's 5K first, clocking in at 16 minutes and 41 seconds. Second-place Ryan Olson of Papillion finished in 19:32, Nick Schuler of Fort Calhoun was third and Rupp's father, Lloyd, was fourth. Recent Fort Calhoun High School graduate and running standout Avery McKennan was fifth.
Jacob Rupp said he enjoyed the course around Fort Atkinson and into Fort Calhoun.
“It was nice because it was a mix of both the grass and the concrete,” he said. “It's not the same during cross-country. It's kind of a nice difference.”
Omahan Eileen Grothe, formerly of Fort Calhoun, returned home to log some miles, too.
“I'm an avid runner and it's definitely a challenge running through the trees, the hills and the mud,” she said. “So if you're someone who likes a challenging run, I urge you to come out next year and run it.”
The reason behind the race made it all the more worth it.
“I think it's a great cause,” Grothe said with hopes that even more runners come out to Fort Atkinson for future events.
More information about Javelan can be found online at javelan.org.