Running, biking or even walking 26 miles is an incredible feat even for those of us fortunate enough to be injury-free, with full working use of all four limbs. Which makes the participation of 80+ wounded veterans from Team Semper Fi in last weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon all the more impressive. Crossing the finish line by foot, blade, cycle, and even one sit-skier, their participation along with nearly 1000 other competitors racing for Semper Fi Fund raised almost $700,000 and counting in sponsorships, bringing awareness to the ongoing needs of injured and critically-ill service members and their families.
An athletic program made up of over 400 service members, Team Semper Fi was founded on the idea of “recovery through sport,” and is an important extension of the assistance Semper Fi Fund provides. Brought together in the spirit of friendly competition, these athletes have forged a community that serves to support and inspire. Members regularly compete in events across the country in support of Semper Fi Fund, including the Tunnel to Towers 5K in New York and Paralympic Games.
Kicking off a full weekend of events, Team Semper Fi visited Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda on Friday to meet with wounded service members and their families. Not long ago patients themselves, Team members returned as strong athletes, sharing their recovery stories and lending an understanding ear to patients and families who are now just starting their journey. Members were then honored at Semper Fi Fund’s annual pre-Marathon Pasta Dinner in Arlington, Saturday, October 27th featuring special guest speakers General Alfred M. Gray and General James T. Conway, both former Commandants of the Marine Corps.
Weather held out for Marathon day as competitors crossed the finish line, with Semper Fi Fund’s volunteers and supporters cheering them on. In the wheelchair division, Team Semper Fi’s Josh Sharpe placed fourth at an impressive 1:28:48, besting his second-place finish last year at 1:32:18. And lone sit-skier Eric Frazier crossed the finish line at 3:28:20. But race-day performance wasn’t the ultimate goal. “We watched as handcycles made it up the steep hills, as runners—many in their prosthetics—pounded the pavement to a successful finish, bursting with pride and sense of accomplishment,” said Karen Guenther, CEO of Semper Fi Fund. “This year’s Marine Corps Marathon was not only the largest, it was the most emotional, once again surpassing all expectations.”
About Semper Fi Fund
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit set up to provide immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. The Semper Fi Fund provides relief for financial needs that arise during hospitalization and recovery as well as assistance for those with perpetuating needs. Our program provides support in a variety of ways including: Service Member and Family Support, Specialized & Adaptive Equipment, Adaptive Housing, Adaptive Transportation, Education and Career Transition Assistance, PTSD and TBI Support and Team Semper Fi. They are the largest charity partner of the Marine Corps Marathon for the third straight year.
About Team Semper Fi
Team Semper Fi is an athletic sports team made up of more than 400 injured service members who compete in athletic events across the country. With their motto “Recovery Through Sport” Team Semper Fi is the heart and inspiration of Semper Fi Fund’s rehabilitative athletic program, an extension of the assistance SFF provides. The team is made up of servicemen and women who have overcome significant challenges in their service to our country and have embraced the fighting, athletic spirit on their road to recovery. For more information visit: www.teamsemperfi.org.
About the Marine Corps Marathon
The 2012 Marine Corps Marathon will host 30,000 registered participants. It starts in Arlington, VA and winds through the nation’s capital and across the Potomac River before heading back into Northern Virginia for the iconic finish at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Rosslyn. Voted the best marathon for families, the Marine Corps Marathon honors the dedication, sportsmanship and patriotism of its participants. Runners from all walks of life participate in the largest marathon not to offer prize money, earning the name, “The People’s Marathon.”