PORT ANGELES — If you were at the North Olympic Discovery Marathon on Sunday, you surely caught a glimpse of dozens of “Run For Joe” T-shirts worn by runners in various events.
These runners, as well as service members in Afghanistan, are joining forces to raise both funds and awareness in conjunction with the Run For Joe event for the Captain Joseph House in Port Angeles.
The Captain Joseph House is is a project started by Betsy Reed Schultz, mother of Capt. Joseph William Schultz, who was killed in Afghanistan seven years ago serving his country. When complete, the project will provide all-expenses paid weeklong respites for fellow Gold Star military families.
Run For Joe has been going on for seven years with fundraising teams running marathons in Big Sur, Calif., for one year and then the North Olympic Discovery Marathon the past six years.
To help add awareness this year, a board member of the Captain Joseph House, Maj. David Abrahams came up with the idea of doing a “shadow run” in Afghanistan in conjunction with the marathon run here last weekend.
Abrahams, who has run several marathons himself, at first convinced 13 service members to run. That number grew and grew to a total of 171 service members, both soldiers and Marines, participating in the shadow run in Afghanistan.
The service members have been running both marathons and half-marathons at bases in Afghanistan all week to help promote the Captain Joseph House.
Schultz said the Run For Joe campaign has raised between $11,000 and $13,000 over the years for the Captain Joseph House. The runs in Afghanistan weren’t so much part of the fundraising as much as getting the story out through service members and their families about the Captain Joseph House and what the organization does.
“In addition to raising dollars, we also raise awareness. They’ve certainly raised a lot of awareness,” Schultz said. “They believe in the Captain Joseph House.”
For security reasons, they can’t run in big groups or alone. They have to run in groups of two or three at a time. So, it will take a week or so for the 171 service people to get in their marathons and half-marathons.
While runners at the NODM had nice, cool weather to run in (perhaps even a little too cool for some runners), runners in Afghanistan are facing temperatures of up to 116 F, which forced some of the service members to run their races on a treadmill at the base.
Schultz has been getting reports back from a Marine named Zach about the shadow run:
“I wanted to let you know that we kicked off our tribute efforts here at our small base and will continue for the run for the next few weeks. Just for background for you all, we are located on what they call an Expeditionary Advising Package (EAP). We currently share space and live adjacent to the Afghan National Police in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Afghanistan. Overall not a bad spot but extremely spartan compared to most facilities. We have an outdoor gym and today the temp hit 106 degrees which is forcing people to run early morning or late evening,” Zach wrote Schultz.
“The event has everyone here talking and pushing each other to do a little more than they thought they could do all while honoring your son,” Zach wrote.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]