Third Run to Home Base held at Fenway
Annual 5.6-mile race raises money to support recent veterans
BOSTON -- Jack Garvin stood three rows behind the field at Fenway Park on Sunday morning and fought away tears.
Garvin, a Vietnam veteran, had just watched his daughter, Julie Tucci, finish the third annual Run to Home Base, a 5.6-mile race that helps raise money to provide clinical care and support services to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly those who are affected by combat stress or a traumatic brain injury.
Garvin's reception upon his return from war years ago was a much different welcome than current veterans receive. But watching his daughter help raise more than $1,000 toward the $7 million the Run to Home Base program has collected over its three-year history, a smile spread wide across Galvin's face.
Tucci calls him her biggest fan, but she couldn't help but wonder what her dad's life would've been like had Run to Home Base been around for returning warriors in the 1970s.
"He never talks about the war," said Tucci, who finished the race in 37 minutes. "They didn't receive the warmest welcome when they got home, so I think he just tried to put those memories away."
That's where Run to Home Base comes into play for current war veterans, specifically those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, widely considered a leading concern for military families.
The Red Sox team up with Massachusetts General Hospital to raise funding for research, education and family support, said program director Dr. John Parrish, also a Vietnam vet.
"We had zero resources [after the Vietnam War]," said Parish. "There are a lot of very sad tales about warriors coming back and what they had to deal with. Everyone back then would have loved the Home Base program, including me."
With more than 2,000 runners on hand -- and thousands of people in attendance to cheer them on -- there was no shortage of support on Sunday morning.
Runners began the race on Yawkey Way and finished by crossing home plate, where they were greeted by active members of the military, Red Sox officials, program volunteers, U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (once he completed the race) and a standing ovation of applause from those in the stands.
"I think [the race] reminds [members of the military] that the American people are behind them," Parish said. "Everyone stops to say thank you for your service. That's easy to say. But people who are willing to run here -- that means a lot."
Millbury, Mass., native Peter Gleason won the race for the third straight year, crossing home at 8:30 a.m. ET, 30 minutes after runners departed from Gate E.
Gleason said it was his favorite race to run and he was doing it to support a friend who had lost two legs and an arm in Afghanistan last November.
David Cote, who was named the 2011 Marine of the Year last summer in Washington, D.C., completed the race on Sunday with just one kidney.
Two years ago, Cote (of Waterville, Maine) ran the Run to Home Base in full uniform just two days before an operation to transplant a kidney to his father, Vincent Cote, who had been diagnosed with end-stage renal failure.
The younger Cote wore a special sign on his back during Sunday's race that read, "Would you donate a kidney to save someone's life? I did. So can you."
Cote was told not to do any running or physical therapy for 60 days after the 2010 operation, but he ran a half-marathon in San Francisco on Day 61. He said the operation went well and his father is doing great.
Jay Salus, of Providence, R.I., said the Run to Home Base is particularly helpful in spreading awareness of the different issues war veterans deal with upon returning home.
"It's huge," said Salus, a member of the Air National Guard who works for the Providence VA Medical Center. "It gets people thinking. One of the things that causes so much trauma that you never read or hear about is IED blast. And the research that goes into it through Mass. General and the VA hospitals is so helpful.
"This race today, it's almost emotional. To see the turnout and all the branches represented and the families -- it's incredible."
Jason Mastrodonato is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.