TEAM FISHER HOUSE |
November 13, 2008
TEAM FISHER HOUSE
Name: Paul McCollom
Posting date: 11/13/08
Returned from: Vietnam
Daughter stationed in: Iraq
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!
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.
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...