Virtual 5K is latest creative gesture to support our CGA friends

It feels downright Orwellian these days, how Big Brother has become alarmingly adept at creating so many Un-persons. Who knew when Orwell wrote "1984" in 1949 that it would resonate so deeply in 2019?

But then, as Michelle Obama once suggested, when they go low, you go high. And our corner of the world has never stood taller than in recent days, rallying to support Coast Guard Academy employees — suddenly Un-persons in the eyes of Big Brother — pay for life's basics.

The latest example comes from the running community, a wonderful concept from the Hartford Marathon Foundation. The "Run for CT Coasties" virtual 5K offers all of us inclined to travel afoot to run (or walk) a road race at several designated courses in the state to benefit Coast Guard families affected by the federal shutdown.

The entire $25 entry fee will go to Southeastern Connecticut Chief Petty Officers Association, an organization that will quickly provide funds via gas cards and grocery cards to service members in need of support. Run for CT Coasties virtual 5K allows race participants to run or walk a 3.1 mile distance at any location they choose through Jan. 21 (this rotten weather is certainly untimely), and receive a downloadable race "bib" by email to show off their support during or after their virtual race.

"We are so appreciative of our neighbors at the Coast Guard Academy and we want to show them our support," said Beth Shluger, a Waterford resident and CEO of the Hartford Marathon Foundation.

The closest race designated to us: the O'Niantic 5K course that runs through downtown. Maybe if we can't walk or run because of the weather, we can register anyway, giving money to people who need it through the hartfordmarathon.com/run-for-ct-coasties/ website.

Many of us know somebody from Coast Guard. Good people. Good neighbors. Maybe that's why our corner of the world has been so determined, creating a food pantry for families in need. Mr. G's hasn't merely given Coast Guard employees a 10 percent discount, but is offering a free breakfast Friday from 6-10 a.m. for all Coast Guard folks. The Whaler Café, a group of students interested in the culinary arts at New London High, baked bread on behalf of Coast Guard on Friday.

There's more: New London was awash in scarves all day Saturday, the byproduct of the annual "Scarf Bomb," during which good people tag and leave scarves throughout the city for anyone out there who needs to keep warm in winter. This is the brainchild of retired New London attorney Sue Connolly, who saw an article a few years ago about a "scarf bomb" in Europe and thought that someone should do it here, too.

"Then I thought, 'aren't we someone?'" Connolly once said.

So now all scarves are tagged with words like, "if you are cold, take me." Or "if you are stuck out in the cold, take me to keep warm."

This year, Connolly reached out with the message that in addition to helping tag scarves Saturday morning at Bennie Dover, bring some kind of item or make a donation to the Coast Guard pantry. There were some neat Facebook photos of adults and kids who were there to help.

How fitting that such inspiration is felt the weekend we honor Dr. King, who would have loved the scarf bomb, the virtual race and living among us now with so many people willing to help. Remember one of Dr. King's best quotes: "The time is always right to do what's right."

And so while others choose to debate the vagaries of a border wall — with vigor suggesting it's more important than a lung — the rest of us have more communal interests. Like whether our neighbors can do things like stay warm or feed their families. Such mundane topics don't move the needle for the people Orwell once satirized. But the rest of us who choose to live through the concepts of community and humanity?

We should all say we're proud to live here.

Good people doing good things.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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