My "Finding Fisher House" Story
I grew up a "VA brat." My dad had served in the US Army in 1970. He did not go to Vietnam due to a medical discharge that left him with a service connected disability (several, actually, and he was finally granted 100% status in the early 1990s). When my dad returned from his service and his surgeries, he went to work at the VA Hospital at Castle Point, NY, and for the first few years of my life we moved around from one VA Hospital to the next. Dad worked his way up through the ranks and was Chief of Medical Administrative Services at the end of his career. He worked tirelessly to make sure that veterans were given their fair due in terms of the amount of service connected status they received from the VA, and he got so good at that, he used to get in trouble from some of the higher-ups. So I used to tell him he was "Mr. Incredible," the VA-version.
Dad passed away in December 2012, almost two years after he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He fought it into remission, but then it returned.
Just before his diagnosis, I had a health scare as well (which he hated to see), and that brought me back to running - something I did a lot of in high school and college. I was running to celebrate a new lease on life, and to catch some thrills, running in several obstacle "mud races."
I continued to run in those races a few times a year when a friend of mine, Steve, asked me if I would run the Marine Corps Marathon with him. Truthfully, I didn't really want to. I had done my time running road races, and I ran a marathon in college and had done a couple half-marathons over the past year or two to see if I could still run long, but the obstacle races were my thing. But Steve is a great guy, and he was in the Marine Corps, and he really wanted to do this. Knowing the MCM had a lottery system, and having applied and been denied years earlier, I agreed to train with him and run it with him if he could get us in.
Well, Steve got us in. He sent me an email link and told me that we were going to run for a Charity. I was a little nervous, because while I trust Steve (even if I was a little irritated that he roped me in at this point,) I don't trust agencies that call themselves "charities." So I checked this "Fisher House" 'charity' out to see if I could support what they do.
I learned the basic analogy of what Fisher House "is" right away, and I liked it. Think of Ronald McDonald house, but at VA hospitals for veterans' families. I was amazed that I had not heard of Fisher House before with my backstory. And they are a very well-run charity, one of the most efficient at donations put to good use of all charities (more on that below). So I was in, and I was happier to be roped into a full marathon!
I raised my money and I got the cool yellow hat and training shirt, and I wore those things out on the rail trail while I trained for the marathon. Race weekend arrived, and Steve and I made the trip to Arlington, VA to run the big race. And we had a team dinner, and we met a GREAT group of people, and we got to meet a veteran who is a huge fundraiser for Fisher House due to his own story. And when we finished that marathon, I knew I wanted to run it again, and I wanted to run it with Fisher House.
That was 2017, and I am now in my fourth year with Fisher House. Organization of our team has changed a bit, but I am allowed to now run any race I would like as a Fisher House race.
This year I have run (✓) or will be running these races in support of Fisher House Foundation as a fundraiser:
- Celebrate Life Half Marathon (13.1 mi - March) ✓
- Marine Corps 17.75k (11.03 mi/17.75 km - March - Virtual) ✓
- West Point Fallen Comrades Half Marathon (13.1 mi - March - made Virtual) ✓
- Hot Chocolate 15k (9.3 mi/15 km - April - Virtual) ✓
- Marine Corps Semper Fidelis Challenge - Part I: Devil Dog Double (5 mi and 13.1 mi in a single event - May - made Virtual) ✓
- One NY 500k Challenge (Run 500km from May 15 - August 31 - Virtual) ✓
- Marine Corps Belleau Wood 8k (4.96mi/8km - June - Virtual) ✓
- Whiskey Run 5k (3.1mi/5km - July - Virtual - ran this twice, once with each son) ✓
- Marine Corps Duathlon (5k run/20.4k bike/5krun - July - Virtual) ✓
- Travis Manion 9/11 Memorial 5k (3.1 mi/5 km-September - Virtual) ✓
- Dutchess County Classic Half Marathon (13.1 mi - September - made Virtual) ✓
- One NY 200 mi Challenge (Run or Bike 200mi from Sept 8 - Dec 24 - Virtual - I intend to complete 200 mi in both the run and bike categories)
- MCM "Trifecta" Part I: Marine Corps Virtual 10k (6.2mi/10km - September - Virtual) ✓
- Army 10 Miler (10 mi - October - Virtual) ✓
- MCM "Trifecta" Part II: Marine Corps Virtual Marathon (26.2 mi - October - Virtual) ✓
- Marine Corps Semper Fidelis Challenge Part II *and* MCM "Trifecta" Part III: Marine Corps Marathon 50k (31.1 mi/50 km - October - made Virtual) ✓
MCM Turkey Trot 10k (6.2 mi/10km - November - Virtual)
Rocky Run 5k (3.1 mmi/5km - November - made Virtual- running this one with my sons)
MCM Frozen Chosin 7 Mile (7mi - December - Virtual)
I ask all of my supporters to keep our veterans and their families in their prayers, to let other people know about Fisher House and what they do (and they do more than just provide a place to live, for up to a year, for veterans' families. They also provide scholarships and air miles) - you can even pass along the link to this page which you should find down below, and finally, if possible, to make a donation within reason to my fundraising efforts. My goal this year is $1000. ✓ (and then some - THANK YOU!)
Thank you so much for reading my story. It is possible that you can help to make a difference in another veteran's family's story.
You can help military and veterans’ families feel a sense of normality when they need it most, during a medical crisis. What better to help during a treatment away from home than to be with your own loving family?
By the way - as I said I do not trust all charities, but Fisher House has received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator 15 years in a row and an A+ rating from CharityWatch/American Institute of Philanthropy.
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