Who Are The Heroes That We Run With?

by Ed Bandas

Who are the heroes we talk about?  Why do we even care about helping them? Why start another charity when so many already exist? What do we hope to achieve?

We believe the answers are very simple: The Heroes are those who volunteered to wear a uniform in the service of our country.  Very simple, indeed.  But it goes a little beyond that.  We can’t talk about the heroes without including their families who often bear the burden of the decisions made sometimes not by themselves. Families include children. Families include parents, siblings, spouses, and friends affected by the consequences of decisions made by the Hero to serve his or her country.

Heroes are not just military members but also our emergency responders in our communities, a growing number of which were also military members or still serve in Guard or Reserve components.  These heroes also volunteer to step in between you and a bad guy or save you at the risk of their own safety. They are the proverbial guard dogs who protect the farm against the bad wolves, both here and abroad.

We decided to help them for the same reason you probably did—we owe these heroes some moral debt for their conscious decision to choose this career.  Some of you reading this blog are these Heroes we talk about.  Chances are you don’t consider yourselves Heroes in the literal sense of the word but you should know that we appreciate your decision, we are proud of you, and even if we don’t help you directly, we “pay it forward” by doing something for you and your families.

Why start another charity when so many exist? Our intent is to be a “force multiplier”, a term used in the military to describe something that has a greater effect on a battle than that thing itself.  As a fairly young event, we probably don’t kick out enough charitable dollars to make a difference yet (we are definitely working on that, though!). But hopefully by bringing together thousands of runners and spectators, we can highlight the good works that some of these smaller charities do and hopefully get them noticed by people who can provide even more funds to them!

What do we hope to achieve? That question is a little harder to answer. Certainly our focus should be on the two biggest issues facing our Heroes today; mental health and job transition.  All the military charities for which you could choose to run support those two issues in some way. But the answer is really bigger than that.  This generation is blessed with young men and women with leadership training beyond almost any previous generation.  Many of these Heroes know what true combat leadership and decision making is.

As one popular internet quote says, “You don’t know urgency until you have had to reload while under fire.”

This generation has a skill set not seen in our previous history. What if we help these nonprofits who, in turn, help our Heroes and these Heroes later become your next mayor, state representative or senator, governor, or President? Shouldn’t we celebrate this accumulation of leadership instead of squander it? Who better knows the consequences of decisions made that puts our Heroes in harm’s way?

We choose to do something about this instead of talking about it. We Run With Heroes.