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Marine Preps for 12-Mile Test, Raises Cash
Solomons, MD - 5/5/2012
By Marty Madden
A Marine who has endured a painful malady is ready for even more punishment this September. Jeffrey W. Williamson admits he’s looking forward to it and has even paid a price for the experience. Williamson, an Illinois native who now resides on Myrtle Point and works as a systems engineer for SAIC, is preparing to do a race/obstacle course called the “Tough Mudder” Sept. 9 at Crumland Farm in Frederick. Though he has already paid the obligatory $125 entry fee, his aim is to raise even more cash for Wounded Warriors.
The Tough Mudder is an obstacle race with competitions held all over the globe. The participants are challenged with over 20 obstacles. The competitors are tested by water, fire, live-wire electricity and, as the name implies, miles of slick, gooey mud.
“The average time is four hours,” said Williamson. “I’d like to finish in a little under four hours.”
Williamson’s participation in the Tough Mudder would mark a significant comeback.He has been recovering from two autoimmune diseases—lupus and ankylosing sponoylitis. Prior to his illness, Williamson had been very active—lifting weights, frequently hiking 30 miles on the Appalachian Trail. However, the diseases required him to take a variety of drugs and resulted in the loss of 60 pounds. Williamson continued to work and do activities with his wife and daughter. However, he admits his stamina and dexterity were challenged as he recovered.
“I was pretty bad off,” he said. “I feel great now. “The Tough Mudder is a goal I made for myself.”
“I thought it was a great idea,” said Williamson’s wife, Melissa.
Although he still has knee pain and “real bad carpal tunnel,” Williamson reported some of the weight he lost is gradually coming back.
“When I was going through all this I was going to the V.A. [Veterans Administration],” said Williamson, who was part of the Presidential Helicopter Squadron when he was active Marine. He decided that raising money for Wounded Warriors would give him even more incentive for the Tough Mudder. “I’d like to turn this into a regular event,” said Williamson of the Wounded Warriors fundraising component of his mission. Williamson said he likes the program since they provide specialized homes and therapy to men and women wounded in service to the country.
Sonny H. Fann, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Wounded Warrior Program team member, said the program is a major outreach effort to both disabled and combat-wounded veterans, and employees in the Defense and private sector. “We are concerned with getting them a career as opposed to getting them a job,” said Fann.
The focus of the program is aiding wounded warriors—any individual with a service-connected disability of 30 percent or more as determined by the Veterans Administration—and “combat wounded”—post 9/11 Purple Heart recipients.
“It’s a total outreach that we want to expand,” said Fann. “This is a major effort for this command.” Fann conceded the numbers of qualified veterans and availability of decent jobs pose a big challenge to the project team. “We’re are not going to be able to place them all.” Nevertheless, the project team continues to seek out suitable employment by reaching out to the private sector. “It’s not a pity program, it’s a good business program,” said Fann. “We say, ‘don’t just look at the resume. Look at the other attributes beyond the resume.”
Noting that the military and combat veterans have demonstrated loyalty and determination through their service, Fann said of the program’s clients “they are going to stick with the job in the long-term.”
Williamson and his family hosted a fundraiser Thursday, May 3 at Hilton Garden Inn, Solomons. The event featured raffles and a silent auction, thanks to the generosity of several Calvert and St. Mary’s County businesses, which donated items. Williamson said he plans to hold another fundraiser during the summer.
For more information or to donate, visit www.raceit.com/fundraising/donate.aspx
Contact Marty Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org
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