On December 5th, Rick Heppard and Bobby Brooks, better known as Running for Heroes, will run the 2021 EOD Warrior Holiday Dash 7K, Half and Full Marathon on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in DC It will be their 12th marathon this calendar year.
On January 31, they ran in a temperature of 20 degrees to run their first of 12 marathons on snow-covered trails to raise funds and raise awareness of the housing needs of aging veterans and Hero’s Bridge Village. The village will be a community of tiny houses that Hero’s Bridge – an organization supporting elderly veterans – plans to build for the region’s most marginalized veterans.
In their 12th marathon, Heppard and Brooks will take another step forward. They will have covered over 1,000 miles (during practice races and marathons) – 2,785 miles combined between the two of them.
They started this challenge in part because of what COVID-19 took away from Vietnam veterans. “2020 was the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and many commemorations and memorials that were due to take place have been canceled due to the pandemic,” they said in a joint statement. Both men saw Vietnam veterans finally being recognized for their war efforts more than half a century ago, but the pandemic has spread and canceled events everywhere.
Throughout the year, Heppard and Brooks have been challenged by the weather, injuries and fatigue — all obstacles they can remember from their days on duty. Brooks is a US Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Heppard is a US Navy veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom.
To overcome pain and discomfort, the duo draw their strength from camaraderie: “I always enjoyed group races when I was on active duty. When everyone is singing, it motivates you. It distracts you from what your body is feeling. You focus on keeping your pace and your joy over (the cadence), ”Heppard said.
In September, with two-thirds of the tracks behind them, they hit a wall: “… body fatigue and injuries made the race difficult. The knees, back and feet were really starting to protest the amount of running we were doing, but we were also busy with work and family so our normal training runs were fewer and more spaced, ”said Heppard.
In marathon number 10: Heppard remembers: “At mile 23, we turned a bit away. On the way back to Old Town (Warrenton) we were passing the fire hall and a retiree stopped us and asked if we could walk him to the tour bus stop. A bus stop turned into the next bus stop, in front of Molly’s.
Brooks and Heppard have no plans to end their fundraising efforts for the Village of Hero’s Bridge at the end of 2021. “Our hope is to reduce and vary activities in the hope that people and groups can join us in this mission. Our fundraising goal for 2022 is $ 35,000, enough to pay for one of the tiny houses, ”said Brooks. “Our plan for 2022 is a calendar of events that includes running, running and hiking accessible to people of all skill levels to continue to raise funds. We want to help ensure that local veterans, aged 65 and over, can live their final years in safety and comfort, ”he added.
Make a donation
To date, Running for Heroes has raised almost $ 9,400, one-third of a goal of $ 26,000. They hope the community that cheered them on, mile after mile, will make a recurring donation of $ 26.2 to Running for Heroes. To donate, those interested can visit www.herosbridge.org/Village.