When 58-year-old ‘Hammerin Hank’ sets his mind to do something, the retired Marine Corps veteran gets it accomplished. Colonel Hank Donigan, a Fallbrook resident since 2003, plans to run a total of 25 marathons this year to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund.
His goal is to raise a total of $25,077 by the end of those races. Donigan breaks it down to $1,000 per race with an extra $77 to signify the year (1977) he graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Donigan retired from the Marine Corps in 2007, after 30 years of service, with a 80 percent disability, which has now worsened to 90 percent.
"My disabilities include degenerated spinal disks, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury; but I don’t focus much on my disabilities," he said. "I just feel lucky to be up on my feet and moving forward." Moving forward is what Donigan does best. He said running is great therapy and he wants to make every step count.
After learning about the Semper Fi Fund (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit) established to provide financial support for injured and critical ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, Donigan decided to use his physical efforts to raise money for the cause.
On May 17, Donigan ran his 10th marathon in Long Beach. On May 24-25 in Riverside, he ran 51 miles in his 11th race which was a 12-hour event.
"It was warmer and more humid than I expected, and I was pretty dehydrated during the second half of the race; I passed the 50-mile mark with 17 minutes left, so I was able to get one more lap before my 12 hours ran out," explained Donigan. "I wasn’t expecting to quite hit 50 miles, so I’m really delighted with my distance, running with no injuries and having an enjoyable time with some very inspirational fellow runners."
The retired Marine is inspirational himself. He has a history of raising money for charity, including when he worked at Camp Fallujah in Iraq as a civilian in 2008, where he raised funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Donigan said he is optimistic that he will be able to complete the remaining 14 marathons necessary to meet his goal of 25 races this year, but is looking for corporate sponsors to help meet his financial target.
To learn more, visit /semperfifund.org/about. To donate, visit fundraising.semperfifund.org/fundraiser?fcid+315083.
Since its formation, the Semper Fi Fund has given more than $91 million to over 11,500 service members and their families, and is one of only three veteran charities to receive both an "A+" rating from Charity Watch and a "Four Star" rating from Charity Navigator.