Honoring a fallen hero, Jerabek Challenge Aug 13

By Dustin Alexander | The Examiner | Examiner.com | August 13, 2011

Ryan Jarabek's mom by the Examiner 8.13.11
Rita Jerabek holds a picture of her son Ryan. Credit: Taylor Weidman of The Christian Science Monitor

Hobart, WI — On Saturday, August 13 runners will be taking on the Jerabek Challenge in honor Marine Private First Class Ryan Jerabek who died in combat in Iraq in 2004. Proceeds from the run will be given to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

Ryan Jerabek, an 18-year-old Hobart, Wisconsin native, joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Pulaski High School. He gave his life for the cause of freedom on April 6, 2004 in Ramadi, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The run will take place on the roads that Ryan ran to prepare himself for service to his country and the Marine Corps.

Karen Guenther, a nurse,who is the Founder and Executive Director of Semper Fi Fund, knows first-hand about the needs of friends and loved ones of military personnel during war-time. Guenther’s husband is an active-duty marine. The organization was started in 2004.

Guenther told The Examiner that when the Marines left for the start of the war in Baghdad, nurses started meeting the medi-vac flights when they arrived back to American bases and they [friends and family of military personnel] knew they needed to do something more for military families.

“I would love to thank the Jerabek Family. They know the issues of our military and our wounded more than anyone. It means the world to us [Semper Fi Fund] to have their support and to have their partnership in helping to take care of those who have sacrificed much for our country,” said Guenther.

In honor of the event, the Office of Governor Scott Walker has issued a Proclamation stating that Saturday, August 13, 2011 is “PFC Ryan Jerabek – Semper Fi Fund Day” throughout the state of Wisconsin.

Race organizers are offering a new twist this year. Runners participating in the four-mile run will have the option of joining the “Boot Brigade,” a challenge to run the event in ankle high boots. Those who complete the entire four mile race as part of the Boot Brigade will receive a military dog tag necklace with the inscription “2011 Jerabek Challenge Boot Brigade.” The slogan for the Boot Brigade will be, “Earn Your Dog Tags.”

The driving force for the event comes from Ryan himself. In a speech given to his high school on December 2, 2002 Ryan stated, “I’d like to ask of you to thank those who fought and are fighting in the battles to keep this country at the pinnacle of Freedom.”

The Semper Fi Fund (SFF) (http://www.semperfifund.org) is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance and quality of life solutions for Marines and Sailors. It serves members of the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces, when they become injured in post September 11 combat or training operations, or they face life threatening illness or injury.

The fund provides relief to qualified Service members and their families for immediate financial needs that arise during hospitalization and recovery, as well as perpetuating needs such as home modifications, customized transportation and specialized equipment.

The Semper Fi Fund has awarded over 32,000 financial grants totaling more than $51 million. These grants are given to injured and ill service members and their families.

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