Judging by the online comments from the Destin Log website, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot residents of the Emerald Coast agree upon these days. National and local politics aside, it seems to me we’re disagreeing about everything from the weather to the Log’s new website. While healthy debate and civil conversation is great, things can get fairly unpleasant rather quickly.
In the almost nine years that I’ve lived here, however, there’s one thing that this community supports completely, and that’s the sacrifice and the service of our military. Over the next few months, there are a number of events that will allow you to cheer on some wounded warriors and, if you need it, provide some inspiration to yourself, moving and training for a race.
On Saturday afternoon, Nov. 3, The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team will take on active duty personnel from Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and the 7th Special Forces in a softball extravaganza. Later that afternoon, the WWAS will again take the field, playing event sponsor InDyne. According to their website, the Wounded Warrior Amputee’s softball team, comprised of young men all wounded in service after 9/11, is dedicated to raining awareness and inspiring the community, as well as fellow soldiers who maybe injured or disabled.
These highly competitive athletes utilize the most cutting edge prosthetics, which were designed specifically to meet their individual needs, as well as hard core training and discipline to bring their message of hope and inspiration to communities across the country.
The overall mission of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team is to support and honor veteran’s sacrifices and show everyone that a “life without a limb is limitless.” The games begin at 2 p.m. at Morgan Sports Center and the team will be escorted onto the field by The Patriot Guard. There will be an honor guard comprised of all branches of the military and a military flyover immediately preceding the game. The event is free and open to the public. You can donate to the event at www.Purpleheartsministries.org and learn more about the team and the players at www.woundedwarrioramputeesoftballteam.org.
The mission and vision of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) has grown and evolved since its inception in 1980. Originally created to support the education of the children of the nine men who died or were injured during the Iran Hostage Crisis, the Special Operations Wounded Warrior Foundation now manages three programs in support of all special operations forces and their families.
Most visibly, the foundation provides full scholarships, including room, board, books, and tuition for every child who loses a parent involved in a Special Forces Mission. The Foundation also provides for a support system of family services, including counseling and other social services for surviving families and $2,000 of immediate financial assistance for families can be together immediately. Since the Foundation’s creation, more than 900 children have received help and assistance and 140 have graduated from college.
In February, Destin will host the Destin Beach 50 Ultra, a series of extreme athletic events, including a Cross Fit Challenge, a 50-mile race, 50K race, and a 50-mile four-person relay race. Participants will run the beach from Tops’l Resort out to Seagrove Beach and then onto the East Pass and back. Last year, the Destin 50 Beach Ultra raised $34,000 for the SOWF. This year, a number of elite runners will attempt to break the official record for Greatest Distance Run on Sand in 24 hours.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s 83.04 miles. Registrants for the event include Mike Martin, the current world champion, who recently ran 172 miles in 24 hours, and current Bad Water UltraMarathon Winner. One of the most prestigious Ultra Marathon events, the Badwater Ultra Marathon is a 135-mile run from Death Valley to Mount Whitney in California. He ran it in 22 hours, 52 minutes and 5 seconds. Connie Gardner, the current U.S. Women’s record holder is also competing in the event and vying for the world record.
If you find these “ultra” times and distances a little intimidating, there is a much tamer “Son of the Beach 5k” race the same day. Registration for the Destin Ultra 50 races as well as the Son of The Beach 5k are open, donations and pledges are being accepted and they are in need of volunteers to work the course, the aid stations, and registration. You can get more information about the race at www.DESTIN50.com and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation at www.specialops.org.
Whether you are active duty, retired military, family, friend, or just an Emerald Coast resident who doesn’t say thank you enough to the men and women in uniform, let’s show these amazing athletes and true heroes our support and encouragement by running, cheering, or volunteering.
Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at www.emeraldcoastfl.com/blog.