Running for a Cause

When I was little I had a cliché dream of being a veterinarian or finding a way to somehow transform tree-climbing into a professional career. These dreams were dashed both by my lack of scientific prowess and intense fear of ridicule, respectively. At just thirteen years of age, eighth grader Alyssa, puts my simplistic aspirations to shame.

Alyssa is set to compete in our 5K this year. That alone is exciting for us, as we love for young kids to get out and stay active. However, there’s a little more to be excited about than the simple fact that she is running our race. Alyssa has set out on an ambitious journey: run a race in each of the 50 states.

Not only is her feat extraordinary on its own as a physical accomplishment, but it is an extraordinary display of determination and good will. Each race she competes in, Alyssa raises money for a different charity. It hasn’t been just about a personal goal, but about helping others achieve their goals by supporting worthy causes.

Alyssa’s ultimate goal is to complete all of her races before her 16th birthday. She currently averages one race per month and may even extend to two in order to finish on time. During her free time (I clearly use the term free time very loosely) she attempts to blend in with the rest of the kids her age by participating in various sports, hitting the beach, and playing music (piano and percussion, to be exact). Keep reading below to find out more about this amazing young girl and her equally amazing cause:

Race on the Base: What gave you the idea to run for charity in all 50 states?

Alyssa: I ran the race in Washington DC because my friend Athena’s Mom, and my Mom’s friend Carol were battling breast cancer and I wanted to do something to show support for them. So my mom said you can always run the 5k in Washington, and we did.  I didn’t run another race until I was going into the 7th grade and in my hometown there is the Progeria foundation.  My brother had run for them the year before, so I decided to make Team 777 which was 7 kids in the 7th grade to raise 700.00 for Progeria.  I sent out 10 letters to my friends to get them on my team and only one joined.  So 120 letters later, we had a team.  We worked hard to reach our goal and it ended up being over 1000.00. Sam and Megan who have Progeria were amazing, but when we were fund raising, we found out that a lot of people didn’t even know of the condition. That is when I decided I could find other races to run and help out other charities.

ROTB: Why did you want to run all of these before your 16th birthday?

A: I chose 16 because you have to set goals in life and since my birthday isn’t until August, I will turn 16 right before my junior year in High School when I have to really start focusing on college.

ROTB: How do you raise money for your charities?

A: I raise money through letters, e-mails and small bake sales.  My goal was to raise at least 25.00 per month and run one race per month.

ROTB: How much have you raised for charity to date (including all races so far)?

A: I’m not sure how much I have raised so far, but 25.00 is my least amount and 2295.00 is the largest amount.  My parents pay my entrance fees to the races.

ROTB: What states have you ran in so far?

A: I have ran in Washington DC, Cape Cod, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.  I have ran 20 races total because I have ran a few in MA.

ROTB: What do you like to do on your free time?

A: In my free time I love to hang out with my friends, play soccer, lacrosse and basketball.  I love the beach in the summer and skiing in the winter.  I also play piano and percussion.

ROTB: What grade are you in?

A: I am in the 8th grade and go to Peabody Higgins Middle School.

ROTB: What is your overall goal in doing these races?

A: To help as many different charities as I can because there are so many people out there who need us.  My Nana and Papa are my biggest inspiration because they do so much for people and they are 79 and 84.

ROTB: What has been your favorite race so far and why?

A: Susan G Komen Race for the Cure in Washington DC.  There were so many people there and a lady asked me how old I was and I said 10 and she was 70 battling cancer and she thanked me.

ROTB: What has been the hardest thing about your journey?

A: The hardest thing about the journey is going to the same people over and over again to pledge me and the causes are great ones.

ROTB: Why Race on the Base for your California race?

A: My brother Nick is a junior in High School and he is taking the ASVAB on Friday and he found this race for me. (ASVAB stands for “Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery”, which serves as a career assessment).

ROTB: What made you select Honoring Our Fallen as your California charity?

A: I have chosen Honoring Our Fallen as my charity because I ran for Home front Heroes in Colorado and The Wounded Warriors in Rhode Island and the military are so grateful and nice for the little things we do for them and the Fallen have made the ultimate sacrifice for us, so we owe them.   

If you want to donate to this young girl’s amazing cause, please visit her charity page:

http://www.crowdrise.com/HonoringOurFallen/fundraiser/alyssashashaty

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Shown here, Alyssa competed in a run to raise money to battle MS (Multiple Sclerosis). 1 of the 50 charities she will have helped by the end of her journey!

Crossing the Finish Line

Working a race like this we have been fortunate enough to meet many amazing people with equally amazing stories. People enter races like these for a variety of reasons from exercise and fitness goals to bucket lists and weight loss. We are excited and honored to have a special participant in our Mission 1K Kid’s Run this year: Tejas.

Like most little boys his age, he is more excited about the fact that he is running on a military base than anything else. However, his parents have a reason to be proud. At 6.5 years old, Tejas has already undergone two reconstructive surgeries for a rare orthopedic condition called Tibial Hemimelia. By definition, Tibial Hemimelia is a partial or total absence of the tibia. For those that aren’t as familiar with anatomy like me, the tibia is the bigger, thicker bone in the lower leg (the smaller, thinner one is the fibula). The tibia supports most of your weight and is a key element of both the knee joint and ankle joint (http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00522). It supports the calf muscle and allows for movement of the foot. The condition and severity of Tibial Hemimelia varies for each person.

For Tejas, it means that he has 89% of his lower leg bone. He wears a 1.25” lift on the outside of his shoe and has gone through many casts and braces. Throughout life and in setting out to complete this race, Tejas’ parents have made sure to let him know that he can compete and earn his accomplishments like anyone else. Tejas doesn’t need anything handed to him- he will gladly take on the challenge. With a new pair of running shoes fitted with a lift, Tejas is ready to go!

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Tejas (pronounced Tay-jus) is all smiles.

A condition that happens to only 1 in a million births produced a 1 in a million child: a boy that is smart, confident, determined, and ready to conquer the world around him. Already, he tells his parents that he is eating healthy so he can be in the Air Force. From the sound of what he has overcome so far, we would be lucky to have him serve. This race day, take the time to stop by our Mission 1K Kid’s Run at 9:00am to cheer on our trooper, Tejas, and the rest of the kids as they race across the finish line!

To learn more about Tibial Hemimelia, check out these great websites:

http://www.steps-charity.org.uk/How-We-Help/fibula.html

http://footanklealliance.com/blog/find-foot-doctor-orange-county-san-diego/

Veteran’s Day

Intro: This entry is shared by one of our Race Team members. This team member has special personal ties to the military and wanted to share an individual perspective in honor of Veteran’s Day.

 

With our military ties and theme, we are obviously regularly mistaken for military personnel ourselves. Sometimes I feel almost guilty that people make this mistake and thank us for our service. At the same time, I am proud that we are able to be tied to them in any way, even if only by affiliation of our event theme and hosted location. I am proud, not to earn undue respect and gratitude, but to be given the opportunity to help support a military installation through positive media and donations.

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. With that in mind, I hope you don’t mind me getting a little more personal than usual. I am going to speak from a personal perspective, so please know that I am in no way trying to speak on behalf of military people everywhere and I have no goal or agenda in sharing this other than discussing an element of the human experience and my pride in my ties to it.

My father is a veteran, as is my older brother—the Air Force and the Marines, respectively. Childhood in a military family is a unique experience. Stability can be inconsistent with one or more of the family figureheads gone for extended periods of time with minimal contact. It is a simultaneous source of pride and pain.

I think family dinners, holidays, birthdays… are all things that people can take for granted. For most of my birthdays my dad was on a ship or stationed somewhere far away out of contact. It was before the drastic technology boom made contact with families and loved ones at least somewhat more accessible. I think when you’re younger it can be harder to appreciate the sacrifice that is being made by family members. Sometimes I was consumed by the only evident fact= they weren’t there. Something that made acceptance harder was that when my family members returned home… they weren’t the same person they were when they left. This wasn’t necessarily good or bad… it was just different. In my experience, there is something about the military life that seems to change people. It seems like the things that they have seen and the things that they have done are ingrained in them forever. So much of my experience with my ties to the military has not been easy. It has had a dramatic impact on my life and on my family dynamics as a whole. But throughout it all, I know that I am fortunate in that my family has always returned to me, even if they aren’t who they used to be.

When growing up in a military family, my expectations were altered. They had to be. I didn’t expect people to be there for every occasion, but I tried to appreciate when they were. I was guilty of taking this for granted too at times, but ultimately I had to be strong for the sake of those around me. I always felt like staying strong at home was the least I could do when my dad and brother were busy risking their lives for our country and our freedom. Their sacrifices made it possible for me to have food, to go to school, to feel safe. Though it was hard at the time, I am forever grateful for that.

I am not sharing my personal family history for appreciation, pity or any undue sympathy. But military life is an undeniable part of my worldly experience, and I know that is true for numerous people out there. It helps define people and impacts people’s lives in ways they may not even realize. I divulge because I am someone who tends to find comfort in shared experiences with others. Today, yesterday, or any other day, whether or not you have ties to the military, I hope we can all take the time to acknowledge the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. This year, my dad retired as a disabled veteran: Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Though words will never really feel like a worthy trade, I want to say THANK YOU to my dad, to my brother, and to all the men and women who sacrifice family time, birthdays, holidays and more irreplaceable time and memories in order to protect our country.

Here are a few recommendations on how you can support and/or learn more about veterans and the sacrifices they make:

There are Veteran’s organizations that exist to both support those who have served as well as to educate the surrounding community at large. They can also provide the opportunity to get involved and actively support their mission. Two well known nationwide organizations that have local branches are the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion. If you’re not sure how to express your gratitude… you can contribute to an organization such as these, personally thank a veteran for their service, or simply send positive regards their way. The sacrifices they make are ones we’ll never truly understand without personal experience. With the freedom we are provided by our brave military, we can honor them and we can thank them.

The base which we operate out of is the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos. Since I know I won’t be able to do it justice, I encourage you to visit this link: http://www.militarymuseum.org/LosAl.html for more information about the origins and history of JFTB. I also recommend visiting http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp for some background information on how the celebration of Veteran’s Day came about. “In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day (*became Veteran’s Day in 1938) will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”   

And just in case you’re sappy like me, here’s a link to a video about a marine surprising his brother: http://youtu.be/YiFh9DJJpPM

Check out www.welcomehomeblog.com if you enjoy seeing those little surprise homecoming visits as much as I do!