What We Do
Freedom Steps is a community, heartfelt tribute to the men and women who are on the front lines everyday defending our country. Some may walk, some may run, but we all participate in every type of weather. The armed forces don’t stop protecting our freedoms just because it is raining or chilly outside. For everyone involved, this event is a show of dedication that regardless of politics, we all support our men and women in uniform and are so very grateful for what they do for us.
The Willow Grove VFW Post 3612 held Freedom Steps for the first time in September 2008. The post received a PA state grant
that they decided to use for an event to benefit soldiers, especially those that are currently serving overseas. The Willow Grove VFW had a close connection with active troops at Willow Grove JRNAS and remain close with the units at what is now called the Horsham Air Guard Station. However, over time Freedom Steps grew larger and became its’ own entity, becoming an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Freedom Steps was created to raise awareness for those soldiers deployed overseas who do not have the comforts of being at home. The money raised from throughout the year is used to purchase supplies and ship them to units around the world. Thanks to the support of local businesses, the community, and Upper Moreland Parks and Recreation we have been able to host the 5k each year at Masons Mill Park and have all the registration fees go directly to our troops. The income we have from the sponsors is more than enough to cover our expenses from race day with the remainder going to the troops. No one within the organization receives any income from Freedom Steps, all income goes right to our troops.
As we celebrate our 10th race in May 2017, we look back at how our organization has grown. We first race in 2008 only had 45 participants, and we have increased to almost 300. The number of boxes has also increased over the years and to date we have shipped over 500 boxes to our troops, each box containing items for about ten individuals, and weighing anywhere from 15 to 60 pounds. It is our goal to mail these supplies and goodies to the troops in hopes that a “little taste of home” brings a smile to their face. We hope to make this event bigger each year and reach out to more soldiers so that they know people here in the states support and care about them.
Highlights of Past Years
2017 – Stay tuned. Event will be held on May 7th.
2016 – Despite a cold, raining morning for a 5k, we still had 179 people run and walk. We collected more supplies this year at the run than any other years. This will be a great start for our next shipment. We also raised $7,950 for our troops.
2015 – For always having the 5k on the same day as the Broad Street Run, we always have a great turn out. This year we had 191 participants and many volunteers. Thanks to UM Key Club for coming out to help year after year. Also, thanks to the United Young Marines for posting the colors for our event this year.
2014 –Another year of increased participation with 285 runners and walkers. If we keep getting too big, Masons Mill Park might become too small. Yikes! Together this year, we raised $7,400 to purchase and ship supplies around the world.
2013 – We had 258 participants this year, which is the most to date! In addition, we raised just over $8,000 for our troops! Thank you to Carol & Will DiMaio, parents of a US Airman for their words of appreciation.
2012 – Thank you to the 227 participants in making another successful 5k! Thank you to all our volunteers and military support organizations who attended. A special thank you to Army Major Auchey and his wife; Army veteran Sgt. Nolan; and proud military father Mr. Kraus for sharing your inspiring stories with us. Thanks to your support Freedom Steps has raised $7,100 for our troops!
2011 – This year, we had 250 total participants, 30 volunteers and several members of our armed forces and military support organizations attend. Thanks to your support, we raised over $5,000 this year for our troops!
2010 – Thank you to the 145 total, 25 volunteers and several members of our armed forces and military support organizations who attended. As of 5/15/10 Freedom Steps has raised over $4,000 this year alone to purchase supplies for our troops and mail them overseas. Thank you for helping make this a huge success!!
2009 – The weather was perfect for this race, much different from last year. We raised a total of $3,500 for our troops in just the second year of this run. Thank you so much for your support!
2008 – First year of Freedom Steps 5k. It rained cats and dogs but we still had 45 people in attendance. Biggest lesson learned, don’t order white shirts for an outdoor event.
Click on Image to enlarge clip from Willow Grove Guide/Public Spirit