Photo of HVL Runner Inspires
As they approached U.S. 50, the Greendale residents did a double take. Something on the horizon, along the levee, had caught their eye.
A man was running, carrying a giant American flag as the sun rose behind him in the foggy dawn of day.
“I scrambled for my phone to get it unlocked, and opened the camera. I just started taking photos hoping that one would come out,” said Logan Carr, as her husband continued to drive.
For them, the scene was inspirational.
“My husband and I went back and forth for a few minutes about how amazing it was to see … what amazing motivation to get out there with the rising sun to make a such a statement,” said Logan Carr.
She posted the photo on Facebook to share the image with others, especially friends who are active military and veterans, she said.
She added the message: Spotted this guy running on the levee this morning. Ran right out of the fog. Way to wake up and grab life by the grapes, man. ‘Merica #USA #america #proudtobe.
By the time she left work that day, the image had been shared 700 times, with that number reaching 1,400 by the middle of the next week.
People started to ask, who is this man?
That man, it turns out is Steve Wingerberg of Hidden Valley Lake, a native of Harrison.
His son saw the Facebook post and let his dad know what was going on.
“It was a little overwhelming,” said Wingerberg.
“I am just an ordinary guy with a big flag,” he said.
But inspiring others is one of the reasons he takes the flag on some of his runs, he said.
Five years ago, he decided to start running to improve his health, said Wingerberg.
“I was listening to Dave Ramsey one day on the radio, talking about life insurance and how women usually outlive men by a few years,” he said.
He is a bit older than his wife, Amber, which is something they usually do not think about, he said.
But after listening to the radio program, he “started doing the math,” he laughed.
One day, he was running a race and really struggling. Then he saw a group of runners up ahead with an American flag.
“I thought if I can just keep them in my sight, I can make it through the race,” said Wingerberg.
He eventually caught up with the group, and found out they were part of a national organization called Team RWB (Red, White and Blue), www.teamrwb.org
The mission of the group is “to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”
Wingerberg joined the Cincinnati chapter and runs marathons, such as the Flying Pig, with the flag.
“Once in a while I pick it up for a patriotic holiday,” said Wingerberg.
He wanted to run with the flag the first day of class for his kids, who attend St. Lawrence Elementary School and Lawrenceburg High School, but he did not have the chance. The couple has three of their five children still living at home.
He decided to run with the flag the morning of Aug. 9 instead, after his wife asked him to stay on a trail due to the foggy weather, he said.
Previously, he ran with a smaller, 3-by-5 flag, but when he asked his wife to order him a new one, she decided it needed to be a little bigger. Now he runs with a 5-by-8 flag, or almost 80 square feet of freedom, said Wingerberg.
To become a member of Team RWB, you do not need to be a veteran. You just need to be someone who supports veterans. You can be as involved as you want to be, he said.
Although not a veteran himself, his father was a Vietnam War era Marine, said Wingerberg, adding he was born at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
When he runs with the flag, he loves passing veterans and watching them salute as their chests swell up with pride, he said.
“That is why I do it,” said Wingerberg.
It was during that race, when he met members from Team RWB, that he first experienced the impact the flag can have on others.
“It made me realize how much hope the flag can give people,” said Wingerberg.
It certainly had an impact on Logan Carr and all the people who have shared her photo on Facebook.
“We paused and I realized that we were just in awe. No other way to explain it,” said Logan Carr.
People she did not even know were impacted by the image, she said.
“I feel grateful that there are still people out there who are willing to get up in the morning and try to inspire someone. That is exactly what he did, and is continuing to do as this photo is shared,” she said.
“I shared the photo because seeing him running with the flag meant something to me. There are so many negative things that circulate the Web and other media outlets anymore. It’s hard to find the good – and
I think that it’s human nature to want to seek it. That morning, in Lawrenceburg, we didn’t have to look hard to find the good. It needed to be shared,” she said.