DODGE CENTER, Minn. - A Dodge Center man is gearing up to run a marathon by himself next week in order to raise awareness for veteran suicides and prevention. He hopes to raise $30,000 along the way to help save one of the 22 lives lost every day.
“I’m just going to take off and go right when that eight o’clock mark hits and I’m hopefully going to reach Soldiers Field by 11:30 to noon,” Devan Wanek said.
Wanek spent six years in the Marine Corps Reserves. On Aug. 15, he will depart from his house and, feet kissing the land, run just over 26 miles to Soldiers Field Park in downtown Rochester.
The money he raises between now and the completion of his run will go to Mission 22, a nonprofit that provides support for veterans in need of treatment programs. It is a cause important enough that it will allow Devan to maintain a grueling pace without complaint.
“I’ve had people close to me serving in my unit that I’ve known personally committing suicide,” he said. “Whether you know the person well or not, it still hits close to home at the end of the day.”
Given the extra stress piled on by COVID-19, Devan believes it is more important than ever to raise awareness about veterans struggling after serving.
He has had people offer to run part of the marathon with him but he prefers to do it alone to better understand what his comrades in arms experienced in mentally challenging circumstances.
“I kind of wanted to make a statement for running it alone. Just kind of that symbolism for what somebody going through that might be going through with that feeling of isolation.”
He hopes to make the journey in four hours or less but says no matter how long it takes, he will keep fighting and running. Semper Fi.
“I ran to Kasson and back. It took me about an hour and 15 minutes which is about a 7:45 a mile pace. I’m hoping to keep that up for the marathon. If I can do that, awesome. If not, I’m just going to give it my best shot anyway.”
If you’d like to donate to Devan’s cause, click here.