Race for a Soldier
PTSD is an acronym just about all of us are familiar with—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It can come on from a wide range of instances but is especially prevalent amongst soldiers returning from deployment, even more so if they have been in battle or witnessed other atrocities. One of Gig Harbor’s local organizations is hoping to give new meaning to the four-letter word with the phrase PTSD: Permission To Start Dreaming. It’s an idea that comes from tragedy, but through that tragedy, lives are being changed for the better all over the country.
Like so many families throughout the history of our country, Leslie Mayne lost her brave son Kyle at a far too early stage of his life. Never wanting to abandon the memory of her son’s bravery and a drive to provide support for other young men and women returning from deployment, Mayne founded Permission To Start Dreaming. The foundation partners with veteran’s programs both locally and nationally and has created one of the largest yearly events in the community.
The first Race for a Soldier was held in 2011, and today the number of runners tackling the half marathon or 5k surpasses 1,500. Other events like the Swing for a Soldier golf tournament and Pull for a Soldier trap shooting event have developed from the race concept and given the organization even greater public awareness.
“I have sensed for a long time that not only Gig Harbor residents are generous but most civilians in our country are concerned about our veterans and their mental health and wellness after serving their country,” said Mayne. “Most citizens truly want to do more than just thank them for their service, but they need an avenue or opportunity to do so, and that is what the Permission To Start Dreaming Foundation is making available to them.”
While the race itself provides entertainment, remembrance and inspiration, the annual kick-off prayer breakfast is fast becoming one of the most talked about portions of the event. “Seven years ago, when it became clear to me that the creation of the Prayer Breakfast was needed, it was, to be honest, my attempt as my ‘love letter to God.’ I was so grateful that I was walking out of the darkness, or if you will, the wilderness of despair, intense sadness and depression after Kyle’s death,” said Mayne.
On the Friday before the race, the foundation serves up a full breakfast and brings in three inspirational speakers to address the crowd. Tables sell out each year as do overflow bleacher seating due to the response from hearing these people speak. Speakers this year include Chaplain Dean Bonura, who is about to retire after 30 years in the U.S. Army. Since his participation is not in an official capacity, his comments will not represent an official endorsement by the Army. However, he is going to talk about what he knows of spiritual/moral injury. Jimmy Hatch will return to the stage for a third time as his story and his ability to convey what his work as a Navy specialist and working with the Seals, including his extremely dangerous mission to retrieve Beau Bergdahl. Hatch speaks about the loss of his working dog during that mission and how it lead him to create the Spikes K9 Fund. Finally, author of “Beauty of a Darker Soul,” Major Josh Mantz, will tell his amazing story which includes flatlining for 15 minutes when shot in Iraq.
Proceeds from this year’s race are going toward a program called The Warrior PATHH (Progressive and Alternative Therapies for Healing Heroes). “Created by combat veterans for combat veterans, the Warrior PATTH is a seven-day immersive and intensive experience designed to help combat veterans make peace with their past so they can begin planning for their new mission at home,” said Mayne.
Since 2013, 26 Warrior PATHH programs have been conducted with some incredible findings. “In just two days, PATHH has made breakthroughs that take the average medical model 12 to 24 months”, said Dr. Brett Moore, former Army psychologist. The Permission To Dream Foundation is looking to make this program a permanent fixture in the Pacific Northwest.
For those wanting to register for the race, they can do so online at RaceForASoldier.org. There you will find all the information you’ll need in regard to packet pickup and other events that come up throughout the year. The cost is $90 for the half marathon and $40 for the 5k with military discounts available. Each participant receives a race shirt and dog chain. The gun goes off at 7am on Sunday, September 24, with awards presented at 10am.
As the event continues to grow, so does the number of lives Mayne, her board and volunteers are able to touch. “We know that ‘fixing the problem’ is going to have to come from outside of the institutions. It is incumbent upon us as grateful Americans to ensure that our warriors have this program that is a proven model and transforming their lives to become the best men and women that God designed them to be after they serve this country.”