”Running 26.2 miles next to a guy who was told he would never walk again was one of the most motivating things I’ve done in years.”
When invited by four of his Marine brothers to run the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), former Marine and EVP—Government Information Solutions Jonathan McDonald seized the chance for a reunion. The decision was an easy one, considering the harrowing story of his friend Chris.
Chris was doing Marine reconnaissance in Afghanistan when his vehicle was ambushed and his finger was shot off in the midst of small arms fire. He duct-taped the severed member to his chest and managed to escaped the exchange. Doctors were able to reattach the finger.
One day, while entering a local village, an improvised explosive device (IED) was remotely detonated, hitting Chris in his spine. Doctors told him he may never walk again.
The lack of feeling in his right leg didn’t keep him from running the full MCM side by side with Jonathan.
Nicknamed “The People’s Marathon,” the MCM originated in 1975 and is the largest marathon to not offer prize money and is open to runners age 14 and up. The events were held in Arlington, Va. and throughout Washington, D.C. This year the MCM celebrated its 40th anniversary, the third largest event in its history with 23,194 runners.
Jonathan’s group raised more than $14,000 among the five of them for the Travis Manion Foundation, which assists U.S. veterans and the families of fallen heroes.. The experience over all was one that Jonathan won’t soon forget.
“Being with all of them was exhilarating,” he said. Surrounded by family and close friends, this marathon wasn’t just about running.
A deeper challenge
As if running a marathon wasn’t enough, the group did 22 push-ups after every mile. Why? To raise awareness for the current veterans’ suicide rate; an average of 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
Jonathan says finding ways to help the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs fight this problem using TransUnion’s data and capabilities is one of his priorities. Knowing if a soldier has a job lined up after leaving and if they’re moving back to their hometown are a few possible indicators of how well they may transition into civilian life. Jonathan hopes to be at the intersection of these key identifiers and TransUnion’s data.
“That’s why I love my job,” he said. “We help the government, which helps people like vets. Even though I’m no longer active duty, that’s how I still contribute back to society, through TransUnion.”
A new Alliance
TransUnion recently announced the Veterans Alliance, a new networking resource group created by veterans, for veterans and their supporters. The U.S. based group held their kick-off event on Veterans Day and strives to connect veterans, non-veterans, and supporters through the goal of enhancing the veteran community within TransUnion and beyond.
“TransUnion’s Veterans Alliance is a very important initiative,” Jonathan said. “It’s important that vets who have succeeded in the business world mentor other vets who are trying to enter the business and help facilitate that transition. If there’s any way we can help, we should. I’m looking forward to actively participating in the group.”
As for Jonathan and Chris, they finished the race together. Through using Information, community and passion for Good, it’s time to help other veterans do the same.