In its 8th annual “race to heal the invisible wounds”, the Run to Home Base presented by New Balance will look this year to help lessen the stigma toward military mental health care and raise the necessary funds to ensure Home Base continues to provide the life-changing care and support to Veterans, Service Members, and their Families.
Steve Monaco, Home Base’s Director of Development and race organizer said more than 2,000 participants are already signed up for this year’s event, which is expected to outpace last year’s total. “The Run to Home Base is our largest fundraiser dedicated to our veterans programs,” Monaco said. “So it’s very important for us to be able to continue to reach the increasing number of veterans who are coming to us seeking help, and in order for us to be able to not turn veterans away, these fundraisers are very critical for us to sustain our mission.”
While the event highlights the once-in-a-lifetime experience of crossing home plate at Fenway Park, the fun 9K run and 5K run/walk provides an easy route for participants to honor a veteran or service members in their life with a contribution to Home Base. “We believe that many people in our community have a family member that have served in the military, either in the more recent conflicts or in past generations,” added Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond, Executive Director for Home Base. “Whether someone runs, walks or donates to raise money for the event, their money is directly supporting our mission of serving military families through clinical care, wellness, education, and research.”
Two of the participants at this year’s race are NESN’s sports anchors Tom Caron and Guerin Austin who are longtime supporters of Home Base and will be running as part of Team NESN. Austin was born and raised in a military family and says the Run to Home Base is one of her favorite ways to give back to the military community. “I became aware of Home Base through NESN Connects, our network’s employee volunteer program and Home Base immediately struck a chord with me,” said Austin. “Having grown up in a military family, I understand the challenges veterans and their families can face. Home Base is doing incredible work and I am just honored to be part of this very patriotic day in Boston.”
Caron is no stranger to the Run or Home Base as this will be his 7th straight year participating in the Run. He also emcees the pre-race ceremony, citing the testimonials of those whose lives were changed at Home Base as his source of inspiration. “It’s a great, fun race, in which people reconnect with their community,” he said. “The Veterans I’ve met, they treasure this race because it’s a day they run side by side with civilians who are willing to take one day and recognize the sacrifices made and that continue to be made.”
The coming together of military personnel, veterans, civilians, and families is the center of every race, and this year will be no different as Home Base and the Red Sox Foundation introduce a special Vietnam Veteran recognition ceremony in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration. Nearly 1,000 Vietnam Veterans from across the country have been invited to be welcomed home by Red Sox nation during the Run to Home Base pre-race ceremony and Red Sox versus Yankees game at Fenway Park that same afternoon. “One of the lessons learned the hard way after Vietnam is that no matter how divisive the conflict, a grateful nation must always say thank you, separate the warrior from the war, and give every veteran the respect and support they’ve earned,” said Hammond. “A Welcome Home for Vietnam Veterans is long overdue but it is never too late to say thank you, and it is never too late to keep faith with the people who risked it all and lost friends in service to our country.”
Home Base is taking steps every day to helps veterans and their families overcome the emotional toll and mental health challenges that often come with the unique lifestyle of military service – at no cost to them. “We appreciate all of our runners that came out and all of our sponsors and community partners. If we didn’t have this race, we could not do what we do,” Hammond said. “We have a lot of work to get these warriors over the finish line, to get them to their new life, and the Run to Home Base is one way we can get there.”
Are you ready to honor a military hero and join the Home Base mission? You and your friends, colleagues and family members can pay tribute to a Service Member or Veteran by registering for the Run to Home Base as either an individual runner or as part of a team in their honor, or making an online donation in his or her name.
Want to learn more about some of this year’s Run to Home Base participants? Each year we ask folks why they “run”. Everyone has their own personal story, here are some of their replies:
“My dad always taught our family about the importance of dedication, loyalty, and patriotism and I am proud to give back to an organization that has done so much to support Veterans and their Families – crossing home plate at Fenway is an added bonus!”” – Casey DiMestico
“I am by no means a runner, and I have never participated in a road race before, but with everything these Veterans have done for us, The Run to Home Base is one small thing I can do for them to say ‘thank you.’”– Caitlin Handley
“As a mother, I cannot express how grateful I am to have Home Base services offered to us. Home Base was the first program that reached out to not only our son but to our family as well. They have given us resources and people with whom to connect and I’ve made it my mission to ensure other families continue to access the same quality of support and care at Home Base for years to come. – N.M.
“During my career as an Army civilian, I had the privilege of serving our nation’s warfighters by testing systems to defeat IEDs. In these efforts, I had the honor to meet and observe many Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines so dedicated to preserving the freedom of all Americans. Through this run, I can make a very small tribute to our veterans and support the Home Base program dedicated to healing the invisible wounds for Post-9/11 veterans.” – Scott Dellicker
“I’ve had the opportunity to work for Home Base as an intern for the Warrior Health and Fitness Program, and the resources this organization has for veterans are incredible. These guys got me to run my first 5k ever last December, and I began running because of it. Every veteran that I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with has had a positive impact on my life, and it’s the least I can do to give back.” – Anna Applegate
Who will you run for?