Organized by Delaware's 22in22 initiative, the event will be held Saturday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Town of Whitehall's Mapleton Square, 801 Mapleton Ave., north of Middletown.
A state veterans support group has announced plans for its third outdoor music festival, Vet Fest, to honor Delaware’s veterans and active duty military personnel while raising awareness about the epidemic of soldier suicides.
This event, organized by Delaware’s 22in22 initiative, will be held Saturday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Town of Whitehall’s Mapleton Square, 801 Mapleton Ave., off of Lorewood Grove Road north of Middletown.
The day will include a motorcycle rally beginning at Minquadale Fire Station 22 (in keeping with the 22in22 theme), departing at 9:45 a.m. and arriving at Whitehall at about 10:15 a.m.
At 10 a.m., community members will begin a first-ever 5K ruck at Whitehall, along the Joy Run trail and C & D Canal. At 11 a.m., a 5K run will join the ruckers on the route. Over 100 are expected to join the run. There is a 1-mile family walk also.
At noon, visitors will enjoy the Parade of Veterans, led by various Delaware military schools and will feature World War II veterans from the area. Veterans of all eras are encouraged to walk the route and civilians are encouraged to bring their families to show support. Vehicles are being provided by volunteers for veterans requiring assistance.
At 12:30 p.m., the three-hour music festival begins. Dozens of military support groups, social clubs, recruiters and non-profits plan to attend.
The creator of the 22in22 initiative, Jacob DiSabatino, said, “We are very excited to layer the Vet Fest onto our 22in22 initiative.”
He said the event began when local bands volunteered their time to help raise awareness and funds for veterans.
“From there, things took off,” he said. “We brought in the participation of Station 22 from Minquadale, garnered volunteers from the Delaware National Guard, the VFW and dozens from the local civilian and military communities.”
The musical lineup includes the Patriot Brass Ensemble, the Delaware Military Academy Marching Band, Salsa sensation Jibaro con Tumbao and Philly pop favorite The FM Band.
Admission is a donation to support veterans
Vet Fest organizers suggest that people arrive prior to 10 a.m. if they’d like to see the motorcycle procession arrive.
The ruck begins at 10 a.m., the 5K at 11 a.m., the parade at noon and music kicks off at 12:30 p.m.
Suggested donations of $5 to $25 are requested for admission.
Food and beverage vendors will be on hand.
This is a rain or shine event.
About the ‘22in22’ initiative
22in22 was started in 2015 by DiSabatino while he was a junior at St. Mark’s High School as a way to draw awareness to the epidemic of soldier suicides. Approximately 120,000 have died at their own hand since Sept. 11, 2001 while less than 5,000 have died from enemy fire, according to the 22in22 intiative.
DiSabatino, now a junior at The Citadel, chose the organization Stop Soldier Suicide as his partner and together they have been able to raise $50,000 in Delaware and $100,000 nationally.
The initiative asks participants to log onto www.give22.com to either join a team, create a team, or simply donate. If they choose to participate, they can create an activity for 22 straight days, raise awareness about the epidemic at the #22adayis22toomany hash tag, and collect funds on the site. Participants run, walk, do yoga, pray, lift weights or walk dogs or other activities. Delaware Technical and Community College joined the cause in 2015 and has all three campuses participating annually. Supporters are also creating campaigns on Facebook, supporting non-profit Stop Soldier Suicide.