COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - On a day better known for playing tricks on people, around 100 military veterans gathered at Monument Valley Park in Colorado Springs.
Snowy weather reduced the field of runners from the 160 who registered but the sixth annual "Run as One" event proceeded as scheduled Saturday morning.
Organizers created the event in 2012, a year after the suicide of Marine veteran Clay Hunt, 28, a veterans advocate who was wounded in Iraq and received a Purple Heart.
Hunt's death led Congress to pass a bill in 2015 allocating more mental health and suicide prevention resources for veterans.
"He was a part of three veterans organizations and ended up taking his own life," Abbie Wentzel, of Team RWB, one of several participating veterans groups.
"We all looked at each other and said we need to do a better job of really supporting our veterans and having a big collaborative landscape," she said. "So that's what started this race."
Wentzel said the race was held in Denver last year, in an attempt to make a bigger symbolic statement about the need for more support and mental health resources for veterans.
"But it didn't quite work out," she said. "We brought it back and now we're fourth out of 170 races around the world, in terms of participation."
Army veteran Jerry Robinette was a bomb technician and is currently recovering from a traumatic brain injury.
"I got help, and events like this one helped bring me back," he said.
Robinette participated in the run for the first time, as did Navy veteran Mila Dimal, who's recovering from post- traumatic stress disorder.
"We want veterans to know help is available, but they have to reach out and ask for it," Dimal said. "They don't want feel like they're being frowned upon because they're injured. I felt that way before. I felt like I shouldn't be out there because I'm injured and other people might look down on that. No."
After the run, several veterans returned to the course to help any struggling runners, to support their motto of "Run as One -- Never Alone."
For many veterans, raising awareness of the situation is their last mission and one they intend to finish.