Tag Archives: fundraiser

Veterans Memorial: A Long Run for a Good Cause (and would you help?)

IT ALL HAPPENS THIS WEEKEND.

My big race for 2018, the Veterans Memorial, is just a few days away. Starting Saturday in Ludington, it ends Monday in Bay City, a 150-mile route from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. My fellow uber-nuts ultrarunners and I have 52 hours to complete it.

This is my first event of more than 100 miles. I have no idea how the final 50 will go, but you can bet I’m going to give it my best. I’ll have a great crew and pacers to support me, and I’ve trained for it all winter and spring, which included two 50-milers and a “trail marathon and a half” weekend. I’m as ready as I know how to be!

If you’d like to follow my progress, I’ve been told that runner updates will be posted on the Veterans Memorial 150 – VM150 Facebook page. Or, if I feel up to it, I will (oh, God) tweet updates. See handle @RunBikeThrow.

But this post isn’t just about me and my crazy running goals. I want to tell you about the fantastic nonprofit the race is fundraising for, and hopefully persuade you to help them out.

In addition to a real test of physical and mental endurance, the VM150 is raising money for Victory Gym, a veteran-owned nonprofit geared to serving military personnel and first responders. Veteran Mike Emory founded Victory Gym to provide a healthy outlet for those suffering the effects of PTSD, after he discovered how exercise helped him. Before I ran the race I wanted to see the place for myself, so today I went there.

I walked in and explained I was running this weekend, and was quickly introduced to Mike Troutt, their Chief Operations Officer. He will be part of the aid station support team for the race. “Just look for the RV or a big black Harley,” he told me.

Mike’s shirt says, “When life knocks you down, calmly get up, smile, and say, ‘You hit like a bitch.'” I’d say that motto fits him well.

Mike is a 17-year Army veteran, who also spent several years as a smoke jumper, and as part of the disaster response NGO Team Rubicon. Now retired, he spends 80 to 100 hours per week working at Victory Gym. His dedication to helping others, and his passion for the gym and its mission, was evident from the moment I met him.

Victory Gym offers a lot of benefits to veterans and first responders; free membership, a place to hang out with fellow vets, and regular support group meetings for those dealing with the effects of PTSD. Mike admitted to struggling with PTSD himself, and choked up a bit when describing how the gym has helped him and others.

The lounge provides a place for vets to hang out and share stories. On the back wall is a memorial to deceased veterans.

The gym is open every day starting at 7 a.m. While its focus is on veterans and first responders, membership is open to anyone, and Mike said about 40 percent of their members are civilians, who pay $15.00 per month. They also let local youth exercise there in exchange for chores, such as mowing the grass.

But the gym itself is just part of what they do. Part of their building is going to be a wood shop for people who like to work with their hands but aren’t big fans of working out. And they hold regular PTSD support group meetings.

With so little revenue from membership fees, Victory Gym relies heavily on donations of money and equipment. If you’re sufficiently moved by this post to help out, please go to the race website, www.vm150.com, and select the “Gear & Donate” link. You can buy shirts, donate directly, or “buy miles” for a runner. My name (Jeff Jackson) is on the lower pulldown list. All proceeds will go directly to the gym.

Well, I guess all that’s left to say is to wish me luck. But I’m looking forward to this weekend. Should be quite the adventure! If I survive it, I promise you’ll hear all about it in this space.

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Running for Clean Water

This post is from Rick Matz, author of Cook Ding’s Kitchen, a blog dedicated to the philosophy and study of martial arts. His site is packed with wonderful stories, videos, and articles written by martial arts masters that anyone can understand and enjoy. Check it out – I guarantee it will be worth your time.

While our shared background is in Aikido rather than running, this October Rick will cross the line and run a race with Team World Vision, a charity that provides clean water and sanitation services in Africa. I’m pleased and honored to give him an opportunity to spread the word about his latest challenge and the charity he’s supporting. Here’s Rick.

Jeff was kind enough to allow me to write a guest post here. I appreciate the opportunity to write about running.

I’m 56 years old and I’m not a runner. I haven’t run since I was a teenager and 5 miles was the longest I ever ran back then. Running leaves me with sore ankles and knees. It’s uncomfortable for me. I’d rather do just about anything than run.

A few weeks ago I found out that nearly 800 million people don’t have access to clean drinking water. They drink out of mud holes, out of water holes shared with animals; from wells that are so distant that the women and girls going to fetch the water are subject to assault, abduction and worse.

Two geese-2I live near the Great Lakes and can go out to the middle of Lake Huron and be surrounded by fresh water as far as the eye can see. To lack water is a concept that is kind of hard for me to wrap my head around. But I learned that so many people live in such desperate conditions, and a group named Team World Vision is doing something about it. They distribute personal filter straws, build filtration systems, dig wells, and install rainwater harvesting systems, among other services.

For $50 a person can have clean drinking water for life. And running with Team World Vision gives me an opportunity to raise money for clean water.

And so I’m going to run.

This 56 year old non-runner has signed up to run for Team World Vision in the International Half Marathon (part of the Free Press Marathon) on October 19th. My goal is to raise $100 for each mile of the race, for a total of $1,310. And I’m hoping you’ll support me.

Team World Vision at the 2012 Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathon.

Team World Vision at the 2012 Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathon.

I showed up at the informational meeting held after the service at my church, expecting to simply lend support to one of my daughters who had been talking about signing up for a marathon. The next thing I knew, I was filling out a form and was one of the first to hand it in.

Every dollar counts. Won’t you consider donating to my race? Your contribution will change, and possibly save, someone’s life.

Here is the link to my Team World Vision donation page: http://teamworldvision.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=4068