From the internal website of the Department of Homeland Security, from MCM volunteer Maryellen ‘MJ’ Jadick:
Wounded warriors from the United Kingdom and other allied nations have run in the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) with their American counterparts for the past seven years. Sponsored by the Allied Forces Foundation, the Side by Side event’s goal is to reinvigorate the spirit of comradery and teamwork that so many allied wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans need.
For the second year in a row, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) joined members of the Fredericksburg, Virginia community to support this incredibly rewarding event. Because the wounded warriors need more water stations than provided by the marathon planners, OCIO volunteers setup extra water stations and brought supplemental refreshments for race.
Although the weather was lovely for spectators, the warm temperatures were brutal for even runners in the best of condition. Feedback from the runners indicated that the support made a colossal difference: “When my legs cramped up and I could barely walk, your folks helped me stretch it out and gave me the strength to keep going.” And, “without the extra water stations, we would have never made it. This was a real life-changing experience.”
According to volunteer coordinator, OCIO’s Strategic Communications’ (and Air Force veteran) MJ Jadick, the level of support from all the volunteers was incredible. “Our folks hauled more than 1,600 bottles of water and sliced pound after pound of oranges; conducted multiple dry runs throughout the night, making sure we had the best locations for our runners; and team members showed up on the course as early as 4 a.m. to man stations before roads closed.” Digital Services’ Maria Espinosa captured the moment: “This is truly an exhilarating experience; the runners motivated us so much more than we could have ever motivated them.”