Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day and the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon

For Veterans Day, Paul McCollom gave me permission to re-print his email about running the Marine Corps Marathon in honor of his daughter (who is deployed to Iraq) and to raise money for the Fisher House Foundation. If you remember, I first blogged about it here.

He's a funny guy and tells a great story:

Date: October 31, 2008

To: Team Fisher House Support Heroes

From: Elderly Marine Corps Marathon Finisher


First of all I want to express a heartfelt THANKS to each and every one of you. In response to my requests (begging, pleading, etc) you contributed an amazing $9,450 to Fisher House Foundation; in total the 285 runners making up the 2008 Team Fisher House raised an incredible $375,000!

I promised you that I would absolutely refuse to quit and that I would make a spectacle of myself for Fisher House and I delivered on both as I finished slowly, in great pain, and ugly. How ugly was it you ask? It was so ugly that children screamed and ran, women fainted, grown men cried, a group of Eastern European villagers were passing out torches and pitchforks, and Marines scoffed. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating somewhat but while it did really hurt a lot over the last 6 miles I finished all 26.2 in just over 5 ½ hours. However you are the real Champions for Military Families and whether you believe it or not you were with me in spirit, your support sustained me, and I quite literally could not have accomplished it without you.

As I've said all along the marathon is simply a tool to bring attention to Fisher House, so to help you put a human face on all this I am going to tell you about two local families.

The first is about a Marine Mom in Saginaw, Michigan who called me after she heard about my fundraising activity. Her son was wounded in an IED incident just over two years ago and was treated in three different military hospitals over a 13 month period. She was with him for the entire time and told me that had it not been for Fisher House they would have had to sell their home and declare bankruptcy. Her son now lives at a local half-way house as he continues his struggle to lead an independent life.

The second is about another Michigan family whose son was badly burned more than a year ago in an IED incident. They too have spent months staying at a Fisher House in Texas as he continues his treatment but in addition to a place to stay the Fisher Foundation has paid most of their travel expenses as well. Stories like these are repeated daily at each of the 42 existing Fisher Houses. There were 38 Houses at the beginning of 2008, there will be 46 before the end of the year, there are more seven more scheduled for next year, and more are needed.

As for my daughter, 1st Lt. Rebecca McCollom (soon to be Captain), she is in the third month of her second Iraq deployment and she remains my inspiration. She is well and working hard at doing whatever it takes to make sure that the Marines in her Company fulfill their mission, operate professionally, and return home safe and sound when their deployment ends. I was lucky enough to get a call from her as I was walking back to the hotel after the marathon. She was excited about my finishing and said that next year that she would run with me on Team Fisher House 2009 and that she would "kick my ass" (Marines talk that way). I told her I that I would hold her to that commitment but if she couldn't outrun me by at least an hour the Marines would probably kick her ass for embarrassing the Corps. By the way, you should consider this an early warning that I will be hitting on you again next year to continue your support for those who continue to sacrifice on our behalf.

I have a final story for you. A young soldier was near me at the start of the race and I continued to see him from time to time over the course of the marathon. When I hit my personal "wall" at mile 20 I lost track of him but I found out later that he went on to beat me to the finish by almost 15 minutes. I was ecstatic for him and moved by his accomplishment because he was running on one leg, damaged from combat wounds, and a high tech prosthesis; and he and his family had depended on a Fisher House during his recovery.

So that's my story of Team Fisher House and the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon. There is a lot more that went on during my training and great stories about some of you and more anecdotes from the marathon, but this is already longer than I wanted it to be. Any time now I expect some pictures from Fisher House and if you would like to see them I will be happy to pass them on, just send me a return email to let me know. Also, if you don't want to be bothered about Fisher House next year let me know that as well and I won't contact you again. Finally, if you can help me out with fundraising ideas for next year or would like me to talk to a group or organization just let me know.

You made a difference and my passion continues…

With Sincere Appreciation and Deepest Respect,

Paul McCollom

For pictures of Paul on race day, see here.

1 comment:

  1. What a moving piece and so appropriate for this day. Having walked a marathon, I can appreciated the miles he ran. What a gift the Fisher House is!
    Thank you for sharing.


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