Organizers of a 5K walk/run designed to honor a former soldier from eastern Iowa are planning to make it an annual event. The Flaughless 5K is named for Dan Flaugh, who took his own life last December, just a few years after he was discharged from the military.
Flaugh’s friend, Georgia Sysouchanh, says she and others didn’t recognize it at the time, but Dan was struggling with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and depression.
Sysouchanh organized the 5K, held last month, as a way to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project – an organization that helps veterans heal physically and mentally. “When we first started planning the 5K, we were hoping to raise $1,000 for Wounded Warrior. By the time it was done…we were able to raise $10,000, which is unbelievable,” Sysouchanh said.
The event was held in Vinton, Flaugh and Sysouchanh’s hometown. More than 500 people took part in the 5K, including dozens of Iowans who never met Flaugh. “We had a lot of people come up to us and say, ‘we didn’t know Dan, you don’t me, but I heard about this race, it’s such a great cause and we just want to support you,'” Sysouchanh said.
Although the inaugural event was a success, Sysouchanh said there were a lot of tears shed. “It was a very emotional day for everyone, especially considering (Dan) only died 10 months ago. His death is still very new for a lot of us, so it was hard,” Sysouchanh said.
A date for the 2nd Annual Flaughless 5K has yet to be determined, but Sysouchanh said it will be held sometime next fall in Vinton.