Sgt. Eddie Velasquez
Branch of Service: Army
Conflict: Gulf War (1991)
Years of Service: 1986-1992
I ran my first marathon for the Children’s Tumor Foundation this very weekend in Disneyworld, 2000 at the “NF Endurance Team’s” debut….At that time we were the “NF Marathon Team” and wore dark green, cotton singlets! Since that time I have run 16 full marathons, 13 half marathons, several 10K’s, 5 K’s, 30-50 mile bike races, 1 ultra(30 miles)200 mile relay + a half ironman (aka “Tinman”) triathlon to benefit the Children’s Tumor Foundation proudly sporting my NEON COLORS! I am also a 10 year race director of a local 10K to benefit neurofibromatosis under the umbrella of a non-profit we started here in our community called NF RACERS, Inc. Our goal is to raise awareness and help families afflicted with neurofibromatosis; a disorder my 15 year old son has. I have ALWAYS run these races on behalf of my son and others afflicted with neurofibromatosis as a member of the CTF Endurance Team.
I am also the wife of a disabled veteran. My husband of 23 years, Eddie, has supported me throughout my entire “career” as a recreational endurance runner. He has driven all night, flown with me, rubbed my sore aching muscles, doctored blisters, carried me when I broke my leg running, listened to me complain, dropped water bottles for me on long training runs-I could go on and on. (I admit he has even come to “find” me and pick me up more than once). Eddie was a (fast) runner while serving in the U.S. Army. From 1986-1992 he was with Ft Drum’s 10th Mountain Division’s 2/22 Infantry. Unfortunately, he was injured several times but not necessarily treated properly for his injuries at the time they occurred. He now suffers from chronic pain ALL THE TIME! He has 2 fused vertebrae in his lower spine as well as herniated discs in his neck. The area above and below his spinal fusion are deteriorating more and he has had to “slow down” and take frequent breaks throughout the day. He also has sleep apnea and takes antidepressants for the depression this has all caused. He has struggled with compensatory benefits from the VA for YEARS and gets frustrated with the treatment he and other veterans are oftentimes given. He is 48 years old
and cannot walk without a cane. I love him so very much. As his wife and best friend it breaks my heart to see him suffer and know I can do nothing about it…so my wheels have been turning and I have been thinking…
I may not be able to do anything ABOUT the situation but surely I can honor him by doing something on his behalf. I am in the process of learning more about different charities such as “PVA” Paralyzed Veterans of America. Like the NF Endurance Team; PVA have charity events in different races. I am still TOTALLY COMMITTED to being a part of the NFE Team family and the Children’s Tumor Foundation. We will host our 11th annual Race the Lake for NF Research on Saturday August 4, 2012: Hint hint-that’s coming sooner than you think-register at our NEW website www.nfracers.com
I also know in my heart that my “NF FAMILY” will understand that I am not “leaving” them but simply adding another color to my neon yellow running wardrobe! I will be humbled & honored to run for the men and women who have served our country for our freedom and security. I will run because I can and have the freedom to do so.
In 2011 I did a Penny Campaign for neurofibromatosis and I thank EVERYONE for their generous support. The cards and notes that have accompanied the checks have touched my heart. But alas-it’s a new year!
In 2012 I have even bigger goals. This is where you come in…
I would like to run for Eddie this year! I am not sure which charity I will commit to at this time but it will definitely be a charity for disabled veterans. I would like to up the ante this year too and get a group together that will “join me” on my mission. WE ALL know and love either an active duty soldier or a veteran, right? I am asking that you either pledge a penny per mile that I run in 2012 or start a penny campaign of your own for the same charity I(we) decide on…..So, join my team or sponsor me? Your choice!
Hmmmmm, now for a goal…..
2,620 was my goal for 2011 and let me tell you THAT was difficult but I persevered! (I actually ran 2,633!)
So for 2012 I am thinking 2,664 which would mean running an average of 222 miles per month in honor of Eddie’s Ft Drum battalion and company 2/22 (triple deuce)…If you decide to start a campaign of your own you set YOUR goal-it doesn’t need to be as lofty as mine…or it can be even more! As the 2/22 says “Lead with Courage”!
I will create a page on Facebook and invite all my FB friends to join me on this. Please be looking for the invite soon…
It goes without saying that my husband is a proud veteran and will be honored by this campaign. I in no way want to patronize him or any veteran for that matter. Please respect his privacy. Just thank him for his sacrifices. That’s really ALL any veteran wants: respect.
2012 will have us contemplating many decisions for Eddie’s prognosis. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers and please consider pledging to make me sweat my butt off once again! Each time I lace up my sneakers I will do it for him and so many other veterans out there who need our support.
Lead with courage,
Diantha K. Velasquez
31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
This post was submitted by Diantha.