Sunday, October 25, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon: 2 hours away

The temp is right around 50 degrees and I hear the wind whipping outside my window across a dark Arlington skyline. Yet in just over two hours, the gun will sound and some 28,000 people will charge off in their own mission of commitment, fatigue, challenge, exhaustion and accomplishment. The Marine Corps Marathon is upon us.

For me, this will be the 9th marathon in this 10-race campaign. It has been a long journey and with the completion of this race, we'll be one step closer to our goal. I've travelled across the country trying to spread the message of hope and support for our wounded servicemen returning home from a tour abroad. I have done television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet and podcasts. 

I have run eight marathons in eight states across four time zones over ten months.  

I have met soldiers with the stone-faced resolution that could only come from a 18-year old boy that is about to be shipped off to war and I have seen the unbounded joy, and tears of happiness that come from men and women as they return from abroad to the loving embrace of friends, family, spouses and loved-ones. 

As I type this, every inch of my body is sore and tired. My eyes are watering because I have put so much icy hot on my quads, hams, knees and hips. I'm sitting with an ice pack on my left knee and a can of 180 Energy Drink at my side. This has been a campaign of advocacy, yet this last week has been rather introspective leading up to my hometown race.

The troops in service, the monuments to those who have fallen, the colors and the presence of those who stand watch over us and our liberty and freedom as we sleep at night. They're all here on display during the Marine Corps Marathon. 

My head was clouded and my heart was full yesterday morning, so I went and sat down for a talk with my long-time confidant, my father. As you drive across the cobblestone entry way and make a left through the iron gates to Arlington National Cemetery, you are overcome with a sense of reverence, peace and patriotism. Each of the marble headstones is arranged symmetrically so that no matter what direction you look, they form perfectly straight lines. Among the soldiers, there are no unique or ornate headstones. Each is a marble template with name, DOB, DOD, service recognition medals, wars fought and religious affiliation. Officers are buried next to the Enlisted. Catholics next to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Protestants. Black next to white. Young next to old. It is the epitome of the military. Some color, same flag, same mission, same commitment.

My father, was laid to rest on top of a hill, which overlooks the western side of the Pentagon. Ironically, the very side where in 2001, terrorist highjacked a commercial US airliner and drove it into our nation's military headquarters, some three days after my father died following a valiant battle with a brain tumor. 

So there I stood. The wind was blowing. The air was humid. The rain was coming in. 

We had our talk. I spoke my mind. I listened to the blowing wind. I found my peace.

So today, as we wind through the closing miles of the Marine Corps Marathon, we will actually pass between the western side of the Pentagon and the hilltop where my father, and thousands of his fallen brothers will be looking down on us. All of us. It is no coincidence that this comes at mile 25, with barely one mile remaining in an agonizing 26-mile endeavor. 

Courage is not blind. Commitment is not conditional. Service does not come without sacrifice.

To those who have fallen. To those who have returned. I salute you. One mile at a time.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Recent Media Coverage

This last week has been a busy week for DLE Sports. Between meetings with current and future clients, hours and hours on the phone with NFL personnel, a Thursday night fundraiser, a Friday television interview, and the hundreds of other details, that don't merit listing or otherwise mentioning, this week has flown have the six weeks since I completed the eighth marathon of this campaign, in Colorado Springs over Labor Day.

By this time tomorrow, I will be six miles into my ninth race, the Marine Corps Marathon. Being a local race, and because of the military sponsorship and tremendous presence, the 10-12-100 Campaign received more coverage this week across the DC media landscape:

News Channel 8: Let's Talk Live. Yesterday (Fri. Oct. 23, 2009) we went live in the studio to do the lunchtime show. Natasha and Doug made a very conversational and warm atmosphere and Courtney did a great job setting up the entire piece. I enjoyed being in studio and having the chance to talk about this campaign and the young, injured soldiers we are working so hard to benefit. Click below for the link, and then just click on the teaser for the "10 marathons" piece. 

The Springfield Connection. This was my local newspaper, growing up. It's funny how things come full circle sometimes. I used to scour this paper for their broad coverage of high school sports. Now as a 31 year-old man, I'm reading it for a different reason. 

The DC Examiner. The connection used to come to the edge of our driveway when I was young. The Examiner, is available just outside our office. This segment was called the "3 Minute Interview" and ran in yesterday's edition. 

The Docket. This was my law school newspaper and our campaign was the cover story. 

It's been a busy week and tomorrow will certainly prove to be an inspirational, motivational and very emotional 26-mile venture. I have invested thousands of dollars, thousands of hours, and thousands of drops of blood, sweat and tears in this campaign. I can only hope that others will be inspired to action and join in our efforts.

I cannot do this alone.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back from Orlando

Last week I was all over the map. Literally.

In the early part of the week, I was in Alabama scouting some college football players and getting to spend some much-needed time with my 93 year-old grandmother, Honey Bunch. On Thursday, I drove back to Atlanta and hopped a plane for Orlando, Florida and more specifically, the hidden academic paradise that is Rollins College. 

Some time ago, I was contacted by JC Beese, who is a student at Rollins and a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. JC had expressed an interest in the 10-12-100 Campaign and said that he would like to know how he could help the cause. When I told him that word of mouth was the best thing (short of writing a check) that anyone could do, the young man took my words to heart. Not long thereafter, he contacted me again and said that he had raised the issue with his fraternity brothers at their weekly chapter meeting and that it was unanimous consent that Phi Delt would dedicate their annual charity reception to the Wounded Warrior Project, via this campaign. 

For those of you who have never been to Rollins, it is located in Winter Park and sits on one of the many beautiful lakes which cover the Orlando area. The trees have spanish moss hanging from their limbs, the buildings are stucco with spanish tiles, while the narrow streets are packed with small boutiques, great restaurants, ample BMWs and Benz, and a surprising youthful presence given the relatively small 2,000 student population. Regardless, it's a virtual oasis, equipped with an outdoor pool, which--thanks to the cooperative south Florida weather--is frequented by the student body almost year round. 

You get the point, the setting was pristine. 

The event was well organized, well publicized and consequently, well-attended by both students and members of the Board of Trustees. I enjoyed talking to all of them as we sipped a beer and had some great BBQ off the grill. The evening was a tremendous success, and was an outstanding example of what I have said all along:

It's only one man running these marathons, but it takes an army of supporters in order for this mission to succeed.

J.C. Beese and the brothers of Phi Delta Theta are a shining example of that. Patriotism has no partisan preference, or geographical limitations. It is not the car we drive, the views to which we subscribe, or in this case, the major we choose to study. 

It's simply who we are as Americans.

A very special thank you to Phi Delta Theta, JC Beese, Courtney Beese and the administration at Rollins College for putting this event together. Your attention to detail and commitment to excellence were obvious to everyone there and in the process, we raised both awareness and funding, in an atmosphere that was enjoyed by all. 

Thank you for all your hard work.

Doug Eldridge
DLE Sports