CINCINNATI -- David Lowe and Michael Lipps warmed up in Saturday morning's chill for a 5K race near the Ohio River.
Lowe has spinal cord issues. Lipps has multiple sclerosis, diagnosed in 2000.
They were among the 3,000 people taking part in the fifth annual DAV 5K: Promise Run for Vets.
The 5K is a run, walk, roll and motorcycle ride presented by DAV, or Disabled American Veterans, to honor veterans and raise awareness of the issues they face every day.
"It's something to support the veterans and people -- the ones that are really messed up that need our help," said Lowe. He lives in Milford and served in the U.S. Air Force.
Both he and Lipps were on recumbent tricycles. Their group started first, to get ahead of runners and walkers.
Robert Krone, who served in the Army during World War II, waited his turn and appreciated being honored. He lives in Montgomery and he's now 96 years old.
"The older I get, the more important it becomes," Krone said.
Santa Claus made a surprise appearance -- maybe appropriate, considering the winter-like weather. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis addressed the crowd, too.
Bob Schilling, a Marine Corps veteran who was wounded in Iraq, was with the thousands of runners and walkers. He said many veterans don't understand the opportunities and benefits available to them.
His mother, Connie Kinney, works for DAV.
"DAV basically saved my son's life," she said. "When he came home from the service, he didn't have a lot, and DAV stepped in and helped him get his benefits."
DAV, based in Cold Spring, Kentucky, gets no government funding. And cutting through government red tape is the agency's main focus, CEO Marc Burgess said: Last year, the organization helped veterans and their families with nearly 300,000 claims that resulted in more than $4 billion in benefits.
Lipps, a Marine Corps veteran from Addyston, was the first across the finish line.
"It's for a good cause," he said. "DAV helps a lot of people out there and they've helped me a couple of times."