Camp Pendleton, CA
Dear SFF Team,
WOW, another EXTRAORDINARY Marine Corps Marathon for the Semper Fi Fund!!! We had over 800 athletes run for the Fund! Red shirts were everywhere!! Our Community Runners and Sponsors helped to contribute more than $425,000 to our 2010 MCM!! The United States Olympic Committee also presented Team Semper Fi with a check of $228,000 on Friday evening. Grand total for the weekend- a record $653,000!!!!
From Team Semper Fi, we had 49 injured athletes running or cycling, with injuries ranging from: traumatic brain, amputation, paralysis, and burns. Their families also joined in with 28 TSF family runners. We had record number of hand cycles at 25, first time wheelchair racing bikes at 2, and the rest ran on their prosethics or able body legs!!
Of special mention were our active duty Marines running to raise awareness and funds for their wounded brothers!! We also had Marine Liaison staff from Bethesda, BAMC, and our DISC (District Injured Support Cell staff) what a great example that we are doing it right when those active duty Marines who meet and care for the wounded run for the Fund!! We LOVE this!!
All-in-all it was a fun filled and extremely heart moving few days--
1st Day: Friday night kicked off our festivities with a special dinner at 8th and I, Marine Corps Barracks. We pushed the limits of the room with over 200 in attendance- patients from Walter Reed and Bethesda with their family members and our Team Semper Fi and families! It was a night to remember. Members from the MC Band played for us during dinner. After dinner, combat wounded Marine and county singer, Stephen Cochran, entertained the group with some new hits and a very special Christmas video and song, â€œAlone on Christmasâ€ soon to be released on iTunes. All proceeds from â€œAlone on Christmasâ€ will be going to the SFF! Special guests that night were: General Amos; Bonnie Amos; Sgt Maj Kent and his family; WWR CO- Col John Mayer and Anne Mayer; Bobby and Cheryle Hogue; Charlie Huebner - Chief of Paralympics; Roger Neppl - Military Director for the Paralympics; and our Board member and TSF sponsor, Kim Foley. We were blessed to have Gen Amos as our guest speaker. He moved the room and many of our wounded wanted to re-enlist!! General Amosâ€™ genuine love and affection for his Marines shined through each word! It was a magical evening and the Marines said their favorite part of the weekend!!
2nd Day: Several Team Semper Fi members visited Bethesda to talk with our newly injured who were unable to leave the hospital to attend Fridayâ€™s dinner. They talked with the Marines and Sailors and their families in an intimate way. It was priceless. We met families of Marines in the ICU who had only arrived the night before. The Team was the best possible medicine for both newly injured and their families- showing hope and inspiration with each room we visited. One highlight was a Marine who had lost his leg 10 days earlier in Afghanistan. One of our TSF members, â€œGuâ€ was also an above the knee amputee...at one point I looked over and Gu had taken off his leg with tennis shoe to hand to the Marine. The Marine picked it up, checking it out and poignantly stated.....â€you know, the last week Iâ€™ve been wheeling around and seeing pain....pain....right now you are the light at the end of the tunnel...Iâ€™m going to run the marathon with you next year!â€.....just priceless! What instant validation for Team Semper Fiâ€™s mission!!!
After the hospital we joined our Community Athletes for a special pre-race pasta dinner sponsored by Flir, HP, New Balance, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP- along with special guests the Honorable Wallace â€œChipâ€ Gregson and Cindy. The dinner was beautiful and enjoyed by both our TSF and those beautiful souls who support SFF mission and efforts. We had ROTC units, friends and family members, and runners who worked over many long months to raise our new best for more than $425,000 for the Fund. The chemistry between our TSF and the Community Runners was just beautiful!!! Our special guest, Ronnie Porta, injured in 2nd Mar Division in 2007, with 80% burns and a right arm amputation, gave such an amazingly inspirational speech to the group..there was truly not a dry eye in the room. Ronnie spoke of his 110 surgeries...with more pending, but it was his positive energy and spirit that touched every person in that room. The highlight of his speech, and what sent those who werenâ€™t already crying to join the rest of us, was his tribute to his mom and the standing ovation that followed by the entire room to his mom. All present showed their admiration for Ronnie at the end of his speech with a standing ovation. Then, to cap off the night our guest speaker and Chairman of the Semper Fi Fund, General Al Gray, talked about the Fund, thanked our staff and volunteers for a job well done and spoke to all the active duty and retired Marines in the room with his own style of deep affection for their service and sacrifices. Lotâ€™s of tears shed this night!!
3rd day: RACE DAY: Morning began at 4:45 to assemble hand cycles and get ready for the marathon. The air was a buzz with excitement, camaraderie...ribbing, laughter and some trepidation...with 26.2 miles waiting for many of them and 10 kilometers waiting for others!! By 0800am the starting line was the place to be with Gen Amos up above on the podium encouraging the racers. Our 10K runners were located across the mall...ramping up for their race, for some their first competitive event since injury!! No words can describe the excitement and pride visible across the athletes faces this special morning!
What a let down it was to have this weekend end!! It was filled with moments made in heaven!! We have built a family....an extended family that we love and it keeps growing. We can hardly wait to see what next year will hold!!!!!
For All of our SFF staff, volunteers and supporters who helped to make the 2010 MCM weekend the BEST to date, a heartfelt thank you and know that our wounded and their families are forever grateful. They will never be alone or forgotten as long as we have a breath!!
Semper Fi Fund