Army Maj. Rodwell Gausi might be one of the few people around who can say he’s from a place hotter than Kansas.
But despite the colder climate, the Malawi native is warming up to the state.
“Kansas is a fine place,” he said.
Gausi was one of about 20 officers from Fort Leavenworth’s Department of Joint, Interagency and Multinational Operations at the Command and General Staff College who ran in the ninth annual Clinton Fire Department Auxiliary’s 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Walk on Saturday at Clinton Lake. It was the second year the officers from Fort Leavenworth came to the event to support the fire department.
For Gausi and the other officers, the event offered an opportunity to get to know the area. “When you’re on campus, it’s kind of an island,” Gausi said.
Indiana native and Army Maj. Jim Cotter said he appreciated the opportunity to “get out and enjoy the community” after spending most of his time in Kansas on the military base with other officers.
Many of the officers come from other states, and they are spending the year at Fort Leavenworth as part of an educational program for military officers.
Marine Maj. Leland Olesen completed the run with his wife, Tammy, and said part of the program is helping the officers build connections with the community and improve their ability to interact with the media.
“Coming out (to events) just bridges the gap,” he said.
Having the officers at the event also gave a boost to the fundraiser for the Clinton Fire Department, said Dennis Snodgrass, assistant fire chief.
“We’re volunteers, but it’s nothing compared to them (the officers),” said Snodgrass. “We should be paying them. It’s impressive.”
About 50 runners competed, and Snodgrass said the officers’ support at the event will help them raise around $1,000 for the department.
And though many of the officers are thousands of miles from their hometowns, and may be in Kansas for only a short time, they’ve quickly embraced the idea of assisting the local community.
“I just want to help this fire department,” Gausi said.