The pandemic has been a primary cause for major life shifts for many friends and family. For me, going from an hour commute to work (each way) and back home to just working from home freed up a lot of time. It also made me more than a bit stir-crazy… so I got into running.
While I ran cross-country in high school, I was — to put it bluntly — not fast. But in the pandemic I really grew to like running (thanks to Coach Bennett and the guided runs with Nike Run Club!) and really loved getting my fitness back. I eventually signed up to run the virtual UMich Big House 5k, and then ran two half-marathons in 2021. And I’ve already signed up to run many more 5k to half-marathon distance races in 2022. But…
2022 is going to be the year where I finally run my first full marathon. And I’m happy to say that I found a great opportunity – I’ll be running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC for a fantastic charity – SemperK9!
SemperK9 is one of the most heart-warming charities I’ve ever come across. They rescue dogs from shelters (and take donated dogs), train them to be service dogs – both for psychiatric alert and mobility challenges, and provide them free of charge to military veterans. (The cost of training a service dog can reach up to $20,000) The organization was founded by Christopher Baity, who was a Military Working Dog handler in the Marine Corps and who had numerous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He himself struggled with PTSD but founded SemperK9 with his wife in 2014 to use his unique dog training/handling skills and train service dogs for veterans.
(Side note – there’s a great video featuring SemperK9 with Mike Rowe in his series “Returning the Favor” on Facebook.)
I would appreciate your sponsorship and support in this goal of running the Marine Corps Marathon. Head to http://bit.ly/JedMCM22 and donate whatever you’re comfortable donating. My goal is to raise $1000 or more – all of which will go to training shelter dogs into service dogs for military veterans.
One final note – there are a bunch of reasons I wanted to run the Marine Corps Marathon. It’s in Washington, DC and runs through Georgetown, the National Mall, the monuments, etc. It’s run by the Marine Corps, so it’s got a reputation for impeccable organization. But it also ends at the legendary Marine Corps Monument in Arlington, Virginia, which is a statue of the iconic WWII photograph “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima”.
I was lucky enough to have been acquainted with one of the men from that Marine Corps company: Sgt Joe Rodriguez. When I was in the Navy ROTC unit at the University of Michigan Sgt Rodriguez was a frequent honored (and treasured) guest of our unit at various events – he lived for many years in the Ann Arbor area. While he wasn’t in the famed photo himself, he was there when it happened. (Specifically, there are multiple “takes” of the photo – he was part of a group trying to gather rocks to better anchor the flagpole when the final photo was taken.) He can be found in other photographs in front of the flag that day.
While Sgt Rodriguez has long since passed, it’s special to me that I’ll finish my first marathon at a world-famous monument to a group of Marines – one of whom I was fortunate enough to know.