By Kristin MolinaroMay 29, 2009
Ultra-marathon runner John Teeples completed a 270-mile four-day run from Columbus to Tybee Island, Ga., Memorial Day weekend to raise funds and awareness for House of Heroes. His goal was to raise $20,000.
"We've never had anybody do anything like this for House of Heroes," said Susan Gerkin, House of Heroes executive director.
Teeples began the first leg of the run at the National Infantry Museum May 22 along with 11 runners who ran with him 14 miles through Fort Benning.
"Two days of rain and two days of heat and humidity," Teeples said of the run. "No way it would have been possible without the help of friends, family and supporters. I'm very blessed to be able to do this."
Teeples said he kept a journal during the run, which can be found on www.runfortheheroes.com.
"It tells details of the run and things that happened on that four-day excursion as well as pictures of sites across Georgia I took with my camera," Teeples said.
Teeples reached Tybee Island at 8:45 p.m. May 25.
"I saw the big old Atlantic ocean in front of me," Teeples said. "I had a bunch of sore spots from rubbing and chafing and that water felt so good on those sore spots."
Though he fell short of his goal, Gerkin said Teeples raised enough money to repair nine homes in the tricommunity area.
Gerkin said the organization spends approximately $1,500 per home, has a waiting list of nearly 400 people and aims to repair 40 homes each year.
House of Heroes is a nonprofit organization providing minor repairs and improvements to the homes of elderly or disabled military and public safety veterans and their spouses at no cost.
Since 2000, House of Heroes has repaired the homes of more than 320 veterans through a collaborative effort between 2,000 volunteers, employees, youth groups, local students and Fort Benning Soldiers.
Teeples said his intention wasn't to place emphasis on his 270-mile run, but to draw attention to veterans in the community.
"They've done incredible things, much more than running 270 miles," he said.
Through House of Heroes, people can make a difference for veterans right in their own backyard, he said.
SSG Robert Price, of Flight Company, 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, 197th Infantry Brigade, ran with Teeples part of each day to honor friends he lost in war and the veterans in his family. Price deployed eight times in his 21 years of service.
"I know when I retire there will be people out there like (Teeples) to help me," he said.
In August, the organization will send out teams to repair selected homes.
Last year, 48 teams participated, said Gary Goodman, House of Heroes board member.
This year, Teeples plans to be on one of them.
"I want to continue on," said Teeples, who will be a first-timer repairing homes with House of Heroes.
Janie Pearson, Fort Benning liaison to House of Heroes and a long-time volunteer, said she sees a lot of military and civilian personnel get involved with the organization.
Units put together teams of 20-30 people to help repair homes, said Pearson, who works in the Plans, Analysis and Integration Office of the garrison commander.
"It breaks your heart to know some of these (veterans) don't have family members that will help them," she said. "You would hope if you weren't there to take care of your parents or grandparents that someone would help them out."
Pearson, who helped repair eight homes, said she volunteers with House of Heroes to say thank you to veterans and their families for serving our country.
Pearson said anyone aged 16 or older can volunteer with a team. Each team is assigned a captain and co-captain, who must attend a mandatory one-to-two hour training session in July.
For more information, call Pearson at 706-545-5607 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
House of Heroes will have several fundraisers this summer before repairs begin in August.
House of Heroes will have a fundraiser at the Chick-fil-A at Peachtree Mall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 20; Ten percent of proceeds from meals purchased at the restaurant will be donated to the organization, House of Heroes will sell shirts for $20 with all proceeds benefiting the organization and Teeples will be present to meet visitors and autograph shirts.
Applebee's on Gentian Boulevard will have a pancake fundraiser from 8 to 10 a.m. Aug. 22.
Tickets are $7 and proceeds benefit House of Heroes. To purchase tickets, call 706-569-7011.
A banquet will be held at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center Oct. 23 to honor the recipients of home repairs as well as the volunteers.
For more information, visit www.houseofheroes.org or www.runfortheheroes.com.