I was raised in a military family, and have always known the importance of supporting those who have served when they come home. This did not fully resonate with me until my close friends came home from war with wounds that I could see and wounds that I could not. Watching them face these challenges drove me to become more involved in the veteran community. It felt like the least I could do.
Running is a passion of mine, but it hasn’t always been. Growing up, I hated running and one day decided it was an obstacle I wanted to overcome. Little did I know that I would love it and it would become my preferred way to relax. Because my dad and several people close to me are Marines, I have always followed the Marine Corps Marathon – its compelling stories of camaraderie, and the sheer will of its runners to get through the race.
One summer, I was half-heartedly running without a goal to work toward. I went to Bethesda, MD to the Naval Hospital where my Aunt works and sat with some of the wounded soldiers during their recovery. Their unbroken spirit was inspiring. One gentleman, in particular, lost both of his legs but couldn’t be brought down. He still had the fight in his eyes and spoke about his injuries as just another obstacle to overcome. Not long afterward, a Marine that I grew up near came home as a triple amputee. I watched his girlfriend crutch the entire marathon in honor of him. I decided then that I would run for those who couldn’t.
This is my third year running the Marine Corps Marathon, and each year I’ve made new friends along the course, heard stories that motivated me to put one foot in front of the other, and cried with families during the blue mile – a stretch of the course lined with photographs of fallen service members. Each year, I have joined a charity team in the marathon – raising money for veteran service organizations whose missions inspire me. This year, I am running with Hire Heroes USA to support the mission of empowering transitioning U.S. military members, veterans and military spouses to succeed in the civilian workforce.