As a ten-year participant in Home Base’s signature fundraiser, the Run to Home Base presented by New Balance at Fenway, Marine Corps Veteran Michael York is no stranger to putting in the miles to support Veterans, Service Members, and their Families. This year, York is taking on a new challenge – and running even more miles for Home Base – through his participation in the 124th Boston Marathon®.
“I first learned about Home Base in 2009 – shortly after I left the Marine Corps,” explained York. “After having such incredible experiences participating in the Run to Home Base each summer for the last decade, I couldn’t pass up the chance to run the Boston Marathon for a cause I am so passionate about.”
The East Bridgewater, MA native will run as part of Mass General’s 2020 Boston Marathon team. Mass General is proud to be an official Partner of John Hancock in the Marathon Non-Profit Program, which provides organizations with a significant fundraising opportunity. Thanks to John Hancock’s continued generosity, Mass General was a proud recipient of entries for the 2020 Boston Marathon supporting Pediatric Cancer, Emergency Medicine, and Home Base.
The 2020 Boston Marathon will be York’s first marathon. Although he is an avid runner with plans to follow traditional marathon training plans, there is an element to his training regimen that is somewhat unconventional: he has also set out to summit all 4,000-foot peaks in the White Mountains of New England this winter.
Summiting every 4,000-foot peak in the White Mountains is no easy feat. Covering a quarter of the state of New Hampshire and a portion of Maine, the White Mountains are known for their rugged trails, granite tops, and unpredictable weather. While Mount Washington, standing tall at an impressive 6,288 feet, is easily the most famous, there are 48 peaks within New Hampshire over 4,000 feet. Colloquially known as the “four-thousand footers,” climbing all 48 peaks is a major goal for many avid hikers. Completing the hikes as “winter summits” is considered even more challenging.
As Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealand mountaineer best known for being one of the first climbers to summit Mount Everest, once said, “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” For York, mountains are a place of healing and serenity, but they are also a source of physical and mental challenge akin to what he experienced while in the service – and what he will experience during the Boston Marathon this April.
York summited his 48th peak, Mt. Isolation, in October 2019, and has since completed six winter hikes. Though he was initially mostly accompanied by his father – a U.S. Army Veteran and three-time participant in the Run to Home Base – on his hikes, York has invited fellow Veterans to join him on the trail. His Instagram account, @VeteransOnThe48, inspires fellow Veterans to get outside, as well as to spread the word about Home Base. Through this channel, York has inspired others to take on the # Veteransonthe48 challenge and, like York, they all share a fierce determination to end Veteran suicides.
“As a Veteran, I am deeply appreciative of the work Home Base is doing for the military community,” said York. “I’m proud to support that work by raising awareness through hiking in the White Mountains and running the 2020 Boston Marathon.”
With statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs revealing that 20 Veterans die by suicide every day, and one in three return home with an invisible wound, York’s efforts to fundraise and increase awareness about Home Base’s mission are incredibly important.
“The invisible wounds of war are complex injuries that require innovative solutions, and that’s what we are trying to do at Home Base and Mass General Hospital”, said Brigadier General (ret.) Jack Hammond, Executive Director of Home Base. “We are grateful to have a team of dedicated Boston Marathon runners this year who are committed to our mission and dedicated to giving back to those who have served our country. Funds raised this year will help us extend our impact and provide individualized, innovative, world-class care on a local and national level.”
“When people come together from all over the country to achieve the same goal, it’s a powerful thing,” concluded York. “It doesn’t take much to show a Veteran you care – sometimes all you need to do is something small and it will make ripples that last a lifetime.”
Though York has set a personal fundraising goal of $10,000, he ultimately hopes to help spread the word about the program’s mission to heal the invisible wounds. To date, he has raised nearly $4,000 in support of Home Base. To support his Boston Marathon fundraising efforts, click here.