I plan to run the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon (MHRM) on October 13th, 2013 in memory of my younger brother, Francis Scott "Buddy" McNally, USMC. He served two tours in Iraq and would have been turning 30 years old on October 16th this year had he not taken his life almost four years ago as a result of PTSD. He was 26 years old when he died which is another reason I choose the marathon to honor him: 26 miles for each year of his life.
Those of you who knew Buddy would say that his spirit was a reflection of what training for and running a marathon is about: dedication, strength, courage, perseverance, and accomplishment. He also enjoyed running, and towards the end of his life, in particular, distance running. I have many memories of running with him as a teenager to train for soccer season...he always made sure he was one stride ahead of me. :) And, I loved our phone conversations as he talked of his training and experience with his first marathon: San Diego Rock and Roll in 2007. After his death, I connected with some of his West Coast friends who shared stories of camaraderie and happiness as they hit the running trails with Buddy.
While running in memory of Buddy holds personal meaning, I wanted to give to a greater cause for this race. I discovered that one of the charitable organizations that the MHRM partnered with is Patriot Hills:
"Patriot Hills of New York, a not-for-profit organization was developed as a way to demonstrate our appreciation to the men and women who courageously fight for the freedoms we all share. Our organization is committed to developing a community based resource and outreach center in New York, designed specifically for the needs of these returning combat veterans and their families. Our primary objective is to provide direct and effective support to veterans and their families, through medical, mental health and therapeutic healing referrals and services in a customized facility that enables them to re-connect transition and reintegrate back from military service. Our veterans and their families did their part: they gave of themselves for us:it's our turn to give back to them."
Please check out their website listed above and explore some of the progressive services that Patriot Hills offers. The need is undeniable for such organizations that help veterans (and their families) heal, communicate and transition back into civilian status. I know that my brother could have benefited from this type of program and perhaps it could have saved his life.
Any donations that you can give to Patriot Hills in memory of Buddy would be appreciated. You can help this critical organization grow and become a standard for the rest of the nation to model for our veterans.
With love, hope and gratitude,
Erica (McNally) Stark
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. - John F. Kennedy
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