My first memory of Team RWB was seeing the eagle singlet at a race shortly after I moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. “That’s a cool logo,” I thought. I didn’t realize what was behind that logo. Then I started seeing more and more Team RWB logos around. Several members would line up and hold American flags at the starting lines of races while the national anthem played.
I slowly learned more and more about Team RWB by watching the members at races and talking with them before and after social runs. The mission statement for Team RWB focuses on getting our veterans connected to the local community through physical and social interaction. I’ve personally witnessed how successful this program is — each person I encountered had an important story to tell.
Running and talking with veterans helped me gain personal perspective as well.
Anna Judd ran through Shreveport-Bossier City in 2014 as a part of her cross-country journey to raise money for Team RWB. The area Team RWB crew joined her for a stretch of her route, and I was honored to tag along as well. There was so much joy between the runners, most of them carrying flags.
I ended up running about 10 miles that day. Katherine Ward and I ran five miles out to meet Anna, then turned around and ran five back. We ended, fittingly, in Veteran’s Park. More and more runners joined in the final miles, almost all wearing red, white, and blue. That was an impromptu Team RWB event, and still multiple people came out in support.
In 2015, Team RWB put on more than 32,000 events nationwide. More than 270,000 people participated; more than 50% of those participants were veterans. The program is still growing, and it is important for us to continue seeking out ways to help.
I entered the Marine Corps Marathon lottery a few months ago and didn’t land a spot. My initial disappointment turned into determination, however. Marine Corps Marathon is a special race. It weaves back and forth between Virginia and Washington D.C., and it showcases many of our national monuments and landmarks. Flags line every turn and straightaway. Marines hand out water cups. I decided immediately that my lottery denial was just an opportunity to make a difference.
So, I will be racing Marine Corps Marathon on October 22 with a charity bib and a Team RWB singlet. I can’t wait to don the eagle logo and experience that course and tremendous American spirit.
To earn my spot on the starting line, I committed to raising $800 for Team RWB. I donated the initial $160 to my own cause, which is what I would have paid had I won a lottery spot. I hate asking people for money, but supporting Team RWB is an important cause — I believe we should all be doing more to help our veterans in any way possible.
If you would like to help support this cause, you can donate at this link: Marine Corps Marathon fundraising.