The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

TEAM FISHER HOUSE |

November 13, 2008

TEAM FISHER HOUSE
Name: Paul McCollom
Posting date: 11/13/08
Returned from: Vietnam
Daughter stationed in: Iraq
Email: paul.mccollom@gmail.com

Now that the Marine Corps Marathon is over I want to express a heartfelt THANKS to each and every person or organization that contributed to Fisher House Foundation in response to my requests (begging, pleading, etc). Together you gave an amazing $11,500, and more than a third of that amount came from Sandbox readers. In total the 285 runners making up the 2008 Team Fisher House raised an incredible $380,000!

Framed McCollom during race
Here I am (in the yellow shirt) at about mile seven, not yet feeling the pain and enjoying a great fall day. The Twilight Zone was waiting and things would change in a couple of hours.

My promise was that I would absolutely refuse to quit and that I would make a spectacle of myself for Fisher House. I delivered on both as I finished slowly, in great pain, and ugly. How ugly was it? So ugly that children screamed and ran, women fainted, grown men cried, Marines scoffed, and a group of peasant villagers were passing out torches and pitchforks.

Okay, I'm exaggerating somewhat, but while it did really hurt a lot over the last six miles I finished all 26.2 in just over 5 ½ hours. But my contributors are the real Champions for Military Families and whether they believe it or not they were with me in spirit. Their support, and thinking about those that need and use Fisher House, sustained me, and I quite literally could not have accomplished it without them.


Framed McCollom after race  Although I look fairly happy here it’s only because I’m done and sitting. Fifteen minutes earlier I was clutching the fence just past the finish line and barely able to walk.

As I’ve said all along the marathon is simply a tool for bringing attention to Fisher House, so to help personalize this I am going to tell you two stories about Michigan families:

A Marine Mom in Saginaw called me after she heard about my fundraising activity. Her son was wounded in an IED incident just over two years ago, and was treated in three different military hospitals over a 13 month period. She was with him the entire time and told me that had it not been for Fisher House they would have had to sell their home and declare bankruptcy. Her son now lives at a local half-way house as he continues his struggle to lead an independent life.

Another local family's son was badly burned more than a year ago in an IED incident. They too have spent months staying at a Fisher House in Texas as he continues his treatment. In addition to providing them with a place to stay the Fisher Foundation has paid most of their travel expenses as well.

Stories like these are repeated daily at each of the 42 existing Fisher Houses. There were 38 Houses at the beginning of 2008, there will be 46 before the end of the year, there are seven more scheduled for next year, and more are needed.

As for my daughter, 1st Lt. Rebecca McCollom (soon to be Captain), she is in the third month of her second Iraq deployment and remains my inspiration. She is well and working hard at doing whatever it takes to make sure that the Marines in her Company fulfill their mission, operate professionally, and return home safe and sound when their deployment ends. I was lucky enough to get a call from her as I was walking back to the hotel after the marathon. She was excited about my finishing and said that next year she will run with me on Team Fisher House 2009 and will “kick my ass”. I told her that I would hold her to that commitment, but if she doesn’t outrun me by at least an hour the Marines will probably kick her ass for embarrassing the Corps. By the way, you should consider this an early warning that I will be hitting on you again next year, asking that you continue your support for those who continue to sacrifice on our behalf.

I have a final story: A young soldier was near me at the start of the race, and I continued to see him from time to time over the course of the marathon. When I hit my personal “wall” at mile 20 I lost track of him, but I found out later that he went on to beat me to the finish by almost 15 minutes. I was ecstatic for him and moved by his accomplishment because he was running on one leg, damaged from combat wounds, and a high tech prosthesis.

So that’s my story of Team Fisher House and the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon. There is a lot more that went on during my training, and I have great stories about some of my contributors and more anecdotes from the marathon, but this is already longer than I wanted it to be. Since I am now committed to Team Fisher House 2009, if you have fundraising ideas for next year or would like me to talk to a group or organization just let me know.

You made a difference, my passion continues, and I will plod along towards the next Marine Corps Marathon finish line on October 25, 2009...

Comments

Congratulations and bless you for your efforts (and for finishing the race) on behalf of our wounded warriors. I have added you and your daughter to my growing list of soldiers that I keep in my thoughts and prayers.

Thank you and God Bless

Congrats on the big finish! I wish I'd known about the donations for the race - I will be making a $ gift to Fisher House by buying T. Boone Pickens book - all profits are going to them.

Dear JAE:

Thanks, but I am serious about doing this all over again next year. Send me an email and I will put you on my contact list for 2009. Buying the book is a good thing, contributing directly mean 98% of your donation goes directly to those that need it.

Paul

great idea. i was 1st cav,68-69.[pointman] my daughter o4 afghanistan, iraq;son #3 o3 centcom[everywhere],just back from iraq.will join them and put together a team and see you there next year.i'll bring "spiked" geritol for us. our time might be slower but we'll be smiling at the end.

Mike:
You send me an email and I will get all the details to you about Team Fisher House as soon as they are available. I look forward to seeing "Team Mike" next year. I'll bring some Kentucky barrel aged geritol.

Welcome Home Mike

Thank you so very much for working for Fisher House. I think I could likely walk a marathon...but not run it! But, from one old veteran---blessings on all you do for Fisher House.

Thank you so very much for working for Fisher House. I think I could likely walk a marathon...but not run it! But, from one old veteran---blessings on all you do for Fisher House.

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