David Chrisinger and Brett Foley are participating in a 50 mile marathon on Oct. 26 to raise awareness and money for veterans adjusting to life after service.
Chrisinger is a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point alumnus and Foley is a friend of Chrisinger’s. They are Rhinelander natives and attended the same junior high and high school.
After high school, Foley left for the Marine Corps and Chrisinger only saw him a few times before his wedding in 2009. They did not meet again until after Foley returned to citizen life in 2010.
On one restless night around 2 a.m., Chrisinger saw that his old friend was on Facebook and decided to start a chat. Their discussion lead to three consecutive nights of Foley talking about the time he spent in the Marines post 9/11.
After the third night, Foley confided in Chrisinger, telling him how he had been writing more and more about his experiences in war, life after returning home and his marriage to his high school sweetheart.
“After he returned he had to sort of find himself again,” Chrisinger said. “I think writing made him feel less isolated.”
With all of this writing Chrisinger considered creating a book about Foley’s story. But, before doing so they wanted to gain readership, so they went on to create the website Running50.com.
The website has become a place where veterans and their families can share stories and learn more about The Mission Continues organization that helps veterans return to life after war.
This organization can provide veterans with the opportunity to get compensation for living expenses and a counselor to help develop a life plan.
This is only available to veterans that commit to spending their time volunteering for a non-profit organization for 20 hours a week for six months.
“It is also a goal to raise awarenessand hopefully show other struggling veterans that it’s okay to talk about things that are bothering them and there is a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak,” Foley said.
Many people have been reading the blog and learning about what veterans go through upon their return.
“I’ve had old friends message me and say that they’ve been dealing with the same issues that I have,” Foley said. “It’s exciting to think that we might have stumbled onto something that may help veterans who are having a hard time feeling normal again.”
The readership they gained sparked the idea for Chrisinger and Foley to raise even more awareness for The Mission Continues by running in The Fall 50 race.
The Fall 50 is a distance run from the northern most tip of the Door County peninsula to Sturgeon Bay.
Their motivation for running is to raise money for The Mission Continues.
Every person that donates 50 dollars prior to the race will be able to have the name of a veteran close to them put on Chrisinger and Foley’s clothes during the race.
“I think if I was doing this by myself I wouldn’t be as excited,” Chrisinger said. “No matter how hard it gets we will always be there for each other.”
The duo hopes to finish the race in 10 hours, but will continue running until they reach the finish line.
“The cut off is 11 hours but there is no way we will stop,” Chrisinger said.
They hope their $10,000 goal will be met, but no matter what amount they raise they will be happy to help veterans.
Although they have set a deadline for their personal goals to be met, donations can still be made post-race for The Mission Continues.
There is still discussion of publishing a book someday and they hope to donate all proceeds to The Mission Continues.
Chrisinger is also working towards teaching a class at UWSP for veterans to learn about writing as away to share stories and cope with any troubles. If this proposal were accepted it would not begin until fall 2015.
Members of the community can also help veterans by simply being more open and talking to them.
“They are just trying to cope with stressors that a lot of people might not understand,” Foley said. “Many veterans want to talk about things that are bothering them, but they are afraid that people might judge them or not understand.”