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Officers, soldiers and residents carry “Big Betsy,” once the largest free-flowing American flag, down Gunnison City’s Main Street; as seen from the roof of Southern Bank of Utah.

 

Big Betsy flies proudly for Gunnison Gut Check

 

By Ben Lasseter

Staff writer

9-17-2020

 

 

GUNNISON—From bagpipes to motorcycles flying flags to emergency vehicles throwing candy, Friday’s parade in Gunnison kicked off a weekend of patriotism and fun with a spectacular display of stars and stripes.

Former marine Matthew Bradford spoke about working through challenges he faced after his service in Iraq. His motto is “No Legs, No Vision, No Problem.”

After an impressive kickoff of the United We March Gunnison Gut Check weekend with the “Big Betsy” flag of a quarter-acre in size, people gathered in Gunnison City Park for a veteran’s speech and auction. Friday’s events were in build-up to Saturday’s marches and in commemoration of the 19th anniversary of 9/11.

“It wasn’t just about our heroes; it was about all of us,” Said Councilman Justen Mellor, the organizer of the event.

Fountain Green firefighters ride a truck to the end of Gunnison City Main Street on Friday’s 9/11 commemoration.

He said one of the best parts of the weekend was the feeling of unity it evoked among people from Gunnison Valley and throughout the state. Veterans and law enforcement officials were present to participate in and observe the parade with the townspeople.

The festivities surrounding the Gut Check saw hundreds in turnout. After the parade a speech and auction followed on Friday. The next morning was the weekend’s main event: a series of miles-long races through the southern Sanpete County’s trails.

In conjunction with United We March, veteran groups like Operation Enduring Warrior led the

Alyssia Stevenson came in first overall in the individual full light class race on Saturday.

parade. Former marine Matthew Bradford gave a speech in continuation of a campaign with the motto “No Legs, No Vision, No Problem.”

Bradford talked about how his life had changed after he lost his legs and vision in combat. He said after his recovery, he began helping others overcome the challenges he faced.

“I decided I could still live this life,” he said. “I’m gonna do it differently, but at the end of the day, I’m gonna get it done

Runners competed for medals in seven sections, including a 5K and full and light versions of the following: five-person team light, five-person team heavy (with 35-lb pack), individual light and individual heavy.

. I wanted to let [other disabled veterans] know no matter what their injuries are, they could still live a successful life.”

The evening continued with an auction, including items from quilts to photographs to a motorbike. In all of the fundraising, including the auction and marches, Mellor said the fundraising over the weekend totaled $50,000.

 

Beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday, marchers took one of three courses: the 5K, the 16-mile (light) or the 26-mile (full) after one more unfurling of Big Betsy. The full course included a 1300-foot elevation change. Some wore 35-pound packs.

The race categorizations were the 5K and full and light versions of the following: five-person team light, five-person team heavy (with 35-lb pack), individual light and individual heavy.

At the time of this story’s publication, there were complications with the timer recordings, and many placements could not be confirmed.

Mellor was able to confirm the following winners: Alyssia Stevenson as overall first place in the individual full light class, Jordan Caldwell in the male section; Wade Anderson in first place for the individual full heavy class and Wyatt Monroe as the 5K winner.

Many younger community members, who kept “Big Betsy” flag from touching the Main Street ground, help the largely taller flag-carriers refold the flag after the parade.

 

For more information about the United We March Gunnison Gut Check, visit unitedwemarch.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=10941.

 

Families line Main Street in Gunnison for the parade that saw the “Big Betsy” American flag and vehicles like this ambulance from Manti, from which the driver threw candy to children.