One of my favorite events to watch every year is the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon from Kona. It was watching this event probably 20 years ago that I first learned about Team Hoyt. It was the first time I’d ever seen the world’s top athletes at the top of their game, and some, well, not so much.
I was watching this event when I saw everyday people – yup, just like you and me – take on some of the world’s toughest miles. And chew them up and spit them out.
Watching this year’s competition was no different, and once again I got swept up in what my brother always calls the “puke stories.” (He can be a bit cynical at times, in case you couldn’t figure that out). Those stories though, are the best part of watching these events for me. This year was no different.
I’ve always had a particular soft spot for anything connected to the military. My dad, uncles, and cousins for generations, all served in our country’s armed forces. Not too long after moving to Florida, I found a military support charity that I volunteered with for a number of years that just recently shut down operations. (Due to our mission coming to an end, not because of anything bad.:) So when I saw a story about a military support charity incorporated into this year’s Ironman back story, I was intrigued.
One of the athletes in this year’s Ironman, Lisa Hallett, is a military wife who lost her husband jin Afghanistan just after giving birth to their third child. In order to deal with her grief, she started to run. And like so many of us know, all those miles can be better than any kind of therapy a doctor can give.
From the wear blue:run to remember website:
“wear blue: run to remember is a national nonprofit running community that honors the service and sacrifice of the American Military. wear blue: run to remember creates a support network for military members and their families; it bridges the gap between military and civilian communities and it creates a living memorial for our country’s fallen military members. wear blue: run to remember exists for the fallen, for the fighting and for the families.”
“wear blue: run to remember was founded following the redeployment of 5-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, a unit that, while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, sustained a significant amount of combat losses and casualties. During that deployment, a small group of 5-2 wives and battalion support staff met weekly to run, seeking to create a support network for one another during this challenging and heartbreaking deployment. When the brigade returned, two of those Army wives and avid runners, Lisa Hallett and Erin O’Connor, turned this small group into a nationwide vision that now helps thousands heal from and work through the more challenging aspects of military life during a time of war. Lisa’s husband, CPT John Hallett, was one of four soldiers killed in that unit on August 25, 2009, while returning from a goodwill mission in Southern Afghanistan.”
“Today, this group runs to honor all military members killed in combat and has evolved into a powerful network of active duty and retired service members, military families, Wounded Warriors, Gold Star families and community members.”
After watching Lisa cross the finish line in Kona, I jumped on my computer and checked out the organization’s website, including their blog. How ironic is it that the first post I read, had to do with runDisney and the Goofy Challenge (here). I cannot do this post justice here, you just have to go and read it for yourself. I challenge you to get through it without crying.
Please, take a few moments and check out this organization. Donate if the spirit moves you. Buy a visor or a shirt. Get involved in a chapter if there’s one near you. Or just run some miles for a serviceman or woman who have made the ultimate sacrifice, or for their families who have also paid the ultimate price and have to live with the grief of their loss every single day. As runners, it’s the least we can do.
Enjoy the ride.
Have you been personally affected by any of America’s military operations overseas? Are you involved in any kind of military support charity? Which one? Do you feel a certain sense of accomplishment in helping organizations of this kind?
Disclaimer: I was not asked by wear blue:run to remember to blog about their organization, nor have I received any kind of compensation for doing so. This is simply an organization that is near and dear to my heart, and one which I am only too happy to spread the word about.