The Run to Home Base presented by New Balance has long been synonymous with endurance, tenacity and perseverance – and this incredible spirit of grit and determination has only grown and strengthened throughout the years. Like many memorable athletic events, this one came down to the wire—and set records. On Saturday, July 28, nearly 2,600 participants from across 37 states pledged their support, raising $2.5M to support Home Base’s mission to heal the invisible wounds of way. In addition to our participants, Fenway opened its doors to more than 700 event volunteers who donated their time to the cause, and thousands more in the stands and along the race course cheering on our participants, to include government leaders and military dignitaries.
This year’s Run to Home Base weekend also reminded us, that around the world, our men and women in uniform continue to serve. In addition to the runners who hit the pavement at Fenway, two “shadow runs” were hosted by Massachusetts National Guard units deployed overseas. Members of the 151st Regional Support Group at Camp Arifjan Kuwait and the 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment at Camp Bondsteel Kosovo joined the ranks of Home Base supporters during their 5K + 9K runs, which were videotaped and broadcast on the jumbotron at Fenway Park.
Honoring the Resiliency of our Families of the Fallen
Home Base recognizes that our soldiers and their families have sacrificed much over these past 16 years of war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. But the greatest sacrifices of the men and women in uniform are those who made the ultimate sacrifice – the loss of life in the service of our country – and the impact of that loss on their families who now live with this for the rest of their lives. This year’s Run to Home Base aimed to remember, respect and honor those who gave their lives in the defense of our nation and reinforce our commitment to care for Families of the Fallen.
“Most Americans are extremely fortunate not to have been exposed to war and what it does to a person and their family,” Home Base Executive Director Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond said in his opening remarks. “But for those of us who experienced combat and those families who have been forced to bury a loved one, war is truly hell. It knows no grief, and its grief knows no bounds.”
For this year’s Run to Home Base featured speaker, Kim Ruocco, the sacrifice is one that has driven her to advocate on behalf of Families of the Fallen through her work as the vice president of suicide prevention and postvention at the Tragedy Assistance Program fo Survivors (TAPs). Ruocco’s husband Marine Corps Major John Ruocco died by suicide in 2005, three months after returning home from deployment. Ever since, Ruocco has dedicated herself to advocating for mental health and suicide prevention for veterans and their families.
“Coming back here [to Fenway], knowing what an amazing fan he was, how much he loved the Red Sox, how proud he would be of me and of our community, and of our town, our state, really gave me chills this morning,” Ruocco said. “Just thinking about how he would have looked at this, what he would’ve felt and this day.”
In partnership with the Boston Red Sox and the Red Sox Foundation, Home Base honored the resiliency and sacrifice of Families of the Fallen throughout the morning with a dedicated pinning ceremony, while as hundreds of of supporters paid their respect through messages of gratitude on a wall of remembrance inside the ballpark.
Later that afternoon, during the on-field pregame ceremony of the Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins, Home Base and the Red Sox Foundation honored more than 500 family members of the fallen in a powerful demonstration of unity and honor.
Home Base is always fortunate to have a number of senior leaders from across the military service join us for our Run to Home Base. A special thank you to Mrs Ellyn Dunford, the wife of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Jim McConville, the Vice Chief of Staff for the US Army; Medal of Honor recipient SSG (Ret.) Ryan Pitts; Major General Gary Keefe, the Adjutant General for the MA National Guard; Major General (ret) Pete Aylward; Brigadier General Mark Merlino; Brigadier General Vincent Malone; and Brigadier General Frank Magurn for embracing and supporting Home Base’s mission.
Home Base would also like to thank Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker; The City of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh; State Representative John Lawn of Watertown; Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Francisco Urena; and Commissioner of the Office of Veterans’ Service for the City of Boston Giselle Sterling; who are all personally committed to Home Base and provide critical leadership within the legislature to support Home Base and our mission to heal the invisible wounds.
Lastly, The Run to Home Base would only be a hallucination if it weren’t for the support and steadfast commitment of our passionate founders. Thank you to Massachusetts General Hospital President Dr. Peter Slavin; Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner; Red Sox Foundation Executive Director Bekah Salwasser; and our presenting sponsor New Balance for committing your time, resources and energy to the success of Home Base in support of our Nation’s Service Members, Veterans and their Families.
Thank you all for supporting this wonderful day; each and every one of you played a part in making this day a success!